I came to Cubs Nation later in life. Unlike many Die Hard Cubs Fans I was not born to the Ivy and Blue. I grew up with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and the melodious voice of the incomparable Vin Scully calling the Dodger games. But when I moved my family to Chicago at the age of 30 I became ripe for the picking and was wooed into Cubs Kingdom even though it seemed a futile hope to ever go all the way to become World Champions. When did my heart turn toward the Cubs? Was it on the purple line “El” ride to Wriggly Ville with its historic charm? You see Dodger Stadium is basically surrounded by a parking lot which has all the ambiance of the 405 freeway. Perhaps it was the first time I stepped out from behind the bleachers to see the painted message “welcome to the friendly confines” with the outfield ivy and the the the flags flying with the numbers of Cub's heroes.
No, all those external charms were not enough to spark my love for the Cubs. What really won my heart was the unwavering optimism that was present at each game. Let’s call it hope. Hope that someday we would go all the way; hope that next year would be this year. This hope compelled the faithful to get to the game early and NEVER leave until the fat lady sang. This hope was often excruciating, because the greater the hope the greater the pain of disappointment. But even in 108 futile years that hope would not die. People died; generations of families never saw a world championship come to the North Side but the hope … it never quit.
What is it about us that craves this kind of hope? I’m convinced it’s not about baseball, it’s bigger than baseball and more fundamental to the human heart. The Cubs tapped into it but they did not create it. Someone once said that humans can live 60 days without food, 30 days without water, 6 minutes without air but not one second without hope. We see this hope in every story we tell and every election we hold. We need it just as surely as we need air to breathe.
And that brings us to God. Implanted into the heart of man is an ancient memory of something far better than what we are now experiencing. In the still moments, when our soul is in deep reflection we remember the story of how we were loved and how we turned from our true Lover to seek another way. We feel the agony of being separated from something that is so right and good. Death, darkness and cruelty drive us almost to the point of despair but still we hope. We place that hope in surrogates like Cubs, or a new President, but it is never enough. Our hearts were made for a greater hope, a redemption beyond a World Series title. And so I love the Cubs for reminding me that hope can be fulfilled! I love the Cubs for awakening the deeper hope inside me for a victory that is beyond anything I can imagine. And that leads me to what my Grampa Swanson used to say:
I love the Cubs for encouraging me to look up for the consummation of all my dreams and desires through the final redemption of creation. The “C” on my cap stands for Cubs and Chicago but for me it also stands for Christ who is the fulfillment of hope for all mankind.