When I think about childhood summers, my mind wanders to the baseball field. During some formative years, we lived about a block over from the little league field. An elderly woman let all the neighborhood kids walk through her yard to cut across to the field, so long as we closed the gates behind us. So on nights when my mom was working late, my brother and I would head over to watch the games, buying dinner from the concession stand, and cheering on our friends and neighbors. The dusty field, the lights, the metal crack of the bat, the crowd - it's nostalgia in a cracker jack box.
I memorized Casey at the Bat as a kid, like any nerdy kid who loved baseball but lacked agility is wont to do. Aside from the unforgettable opening and closing lines, the one that has stayed with me for decades is from the second stanza, "the rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast."
Hope is a precious thing, and to lose it is devastating. Perhaps our collective bent toward cynicism is protection against the difficult and vulnerable work of holding on to hope. These can feel like dark days. These are dark days for some of us. Yet Anne Lamott said that "Hope begins in the dark."
That seems about right. Not the thin kind of hope like when we wish for good weather for a cookout. But the real, substantial stuff that comes from pressing on when the future is uncertain (because it always is), and the road difficult (because it often is). So may hope spring eternal in all of us (both on and off the field)!