I saw in the sports section of the paper that there would be a baseball game going on. The local Class-A team was playing, and I remembered seeing the ballpark on my way somewhere on Saturday. I asked one of the Burger King people if the ballpark could be walked to from there; he said yes, and drew a quick map on a napkin. I got there in ten minutes, about an hour before the first pitch.

I opened up the newspaper again and browsed through it some more. I looked around the ballpark from time to time, as it filled with people; I got one of those "this must be the place" feelings - this is baseball on a human scale, with ads for local merchants on the outfield walls instead of corporate logos infesting every area of the place; a few thousand seats; lots of greenery beyond the green of the infield and outfield. A real park, where ball is played, played by starving, hopeful craftsmen, most of whom won't even get a whiff of the rarefied perfume of The Show. A real ballpark.

A half-hour later, an old guy sits next to me, looking like a retiree lost on his way to or from the 19th Hole. It turns out that he's a baseball scout; Bill's his name. He's on vacation, but the baseball-lifer that he is, he chooses to spend some of his free time at a game.

We follow the game on our respective scorecards, Bill's style much more detailed than mine. He adds a comment here and there about some of the players:

"With those mechanics, he'll blow out his arm in a year or two... Yeah, he's real fast, but you can't steal first base... Don't matter how big you are if you got them big holes in your swing..."

Around the seventh inning, I start crying a little; I'm not quite sure why. There's a part of me that would like to just sit in this place forever, loving the small-town vibe that exists beyond the invisible borders of this college town; my tears are tears of joy, maybe. I could run away, start all over again here, start from scratch. But there's the dutiful part of me that won't allow me to go AWOL from the task at hand - heading back to the van. I try to remember how great it was on stage the previous night, and how I needn't dread the experience any more. But the dread is guaranteed, so my tears are also tears of dread. I try to coolly, surreptitiously wipe the tears away, but Bill catches me.

"Can I pray for you?"

"Uh, sure." Why not? I'll humor the nice old man.

"Are you a Christian?"

"Uh, yeah." My mind flashes back to the strong smell of high-church incense weirding me out as a child, and to first seeing the hard copy evidence of my christening, years after the fact. And I flash to the day my folks stopped dragging me to church, no longer interrupting my desired Lazy Sundays. I'm still nominally a Christian, at least. I guess. Right? Bill takes my "yeah" at face value, with no "are ye born again?", no questions about repentance, no "everything you know is wrong". He sets aside his scorecard, puts an arm around my shoulder and a hand on my forehead and starts praying.

"Father God, please help this young man. I don't know exactly his problem, but you have led me to pray for him. Help him. Heal him. Bring him to the saving knowledge of your son... Hey, you got insomnia, don't you?"

"Yeah, how'd you know?"

"The Spirit told me."

"Oh. OK."

Then he prays some more, telling the "spirit of insomnia" to come out of me, "in the name of Christ Jesus, amen."

So that's it? No warm-and-fuzzy feeling overtaking me, no fireworks, no heavens opening up with some sort of confirmation of the wonderful things that should be happening to me? This seems more like a placebo.

The game heads into extra innings. I decide to leave and rejoin the band, surely, by now, starting to get ready for our next round in the endless cycle of ride, wait, soundcheck, wait, play, wait.

I still have my occasional bouts of insomnia.


  • The usual.

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