I love baseball. The beginning of football season doesn’t impress me much, but baseball is so much more interesting. It doesn’t have a clock, so there’s always a chance things will turn around, even in the bottom of the 9th. It’s a sport I wish I had talent for: even though I love it, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn throwing the ball, and you could time me from home to first with a calendar.
The tension of the hitter at the plate is what I can’t get enough of. They need to be a coiled spring: ready to swing at the ball just so, letting that power unwind like a reflex without thinking. They need to know the situation: whether he needs to swing for the fences, guide the ball to one side of the infield, or just “hit it where they ain’t.” The readiness for the pitch can get meditative: a batter that’s too tense won’t swing well, and one that isn’t ready will never get the timing right. It’s a relaxed concentration that needed, one that isn’t anxious yet totally focused. Relaxed concentration is useful in many pursuits: it’s what’s needed to be an artist or musician, be a caretaker for a disabled person, or be a master chef in the kitchen.
Relaxed concentration is also the virtue of a good watchman. Jesus asks us to be ready, to be awake and alert, yet it’s going to be an indefinite wait. Losing focus means disaster: unfocused watchmen have let a multitude of disasters happen over the course of history. Being anxious isn’t good either, since it costs a lot of energy and is impossible to sustain for any long period of time. Peter and John failed as watchmen at Gethsemane because anxiety wore them out. A good watchman is always ready, always calm, always at peace.
Christ has made a great investment in us, and He keeps on making it every day. We know that God’s promise is true because of the miracles we’ve seen in our lifetimes (if you’re not sure about this, we should talk: I’ll been you’ve seen at least one!) He gives us the care of everyone He cares about, makes us workers for justice, ambassadors of hope. Even if we can physically do nothing else, we can be ambassadors of hope for each other.
So we are called to be peaceful watchers, relaxed and ready for whenever we seen Him, no matter in what form He appears in. We are called to respond: to reach out to someone in need, to offer hope. If nothing else, we are still here: we keep ourselves ready as we walk by faith and live in hope.