The human struggle with identity. There was both an individual struggle and a communal struggle with this identity. Now more than ever.

I am nothing except what I have absorbed from my father. I knew what he liked, how he thought. He had passed on to me what was important in life. I share within me a part of his identity. All that was important. And a lot of what he liked and how he thought.

I spend a lot of time at ballparks, like my dad. With a certain edge. Last night I was asked a question about baseball. I was asked a question about the umpires by someone my own age. The questioner did not know the answer, but attempted to offer an answer. That answer was not close to the truth. I too bluntly asked what good it was to give an answer when you really had no idea.

I did not like the local broadcasters who purported to know everything. It made me think how poor the current generation of broadcasters were, as they tried to project a certain image. There was never a discussion on air about issues like this one, developing umpires. Are crews kept together season to season? The crew chief’s job was to work to make the rookie umpire better. The crew chief’s job was to make this an efficient 4-man crew. What I did not know was, since the day that the commissioner’s office had allowed National League umpires to integrate with American League umpires, whether these were one year gigs? Or whether the crews were dispersed each year with all new crews? If they ever get to keep working for a while with those partners who became a friend? A young umpire was nothing except what he had absorbed from his crew. And then what he did with it.

The new archbishop in New York City was quoted in February 2009 in the New York Times that a bishop’s success as a Catholic leader was to be judged in the numbers who elect to marry in the church, who attend Sunday Mass, or who join the priest or sisterhood. There were not many successful popes or archbishops anywhere, in an American perspective, based on this measuring stick, over the last 20 to 30 years. Statistics show that 25% of all Catholics have left the Church of Rome for another church. Surely those 25% were not attending Mass. And the rate of Catholics becoming priests or nuns had fallen off dramatically over the past 40 years.

One day the crew chief would die and in baseball, he had to be replaced.

All of this was a part of the human struggle with identity. That “becoming.” There was an excitement in all of this “becoming.” In the formation. Of this communal and individual “becoming.” Since I am nothing except what I have absorbed from my father and my mother.

Once a year I went away to this spot of Lake DeMontreville to look at what I had “become.” In that life journey, to actually stop to hear the “How’s it going?” question. To read those Genesis stories, where God asked, “Where are you Adam?” After he just ate the apple.

The journey. With its starts and stops. This year there was a retreat “master.” The crew chief, as it were, amidst the human struggle with identity. That retreat master’s opening remarks were “Pilgrim, there is no way. The way is made by going.”

My struggle. The pope’s struggle. In the journey. With an edge. In the simpleness of the morning, I had started once again on this “becoming” process, to grasp the reality of the earth. And to figure out how I fit into this story.

The human struggle, an individual struggle and a communal struggle, with identity. “Pilgrim, there is no way. The way is made by going.


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