Cheering on the Bleacher Rat.


It was my first Cub game in years. I was so excited. I’d be going with a group of Pastors attending the Connected Conference with the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God. It was a way to rest, relax, and reconnect with each other. And it was a way for me to get to the game without having to drive! It was the perfect scenario.

All that being said, it was really sad that the greatest thing we had to cheer about at the game was a rat. Yes, I said a rat. (This isn’t him, or her, by the way. This is a picture I picked up when I did a google search for rats. Thanks In straight away center field, right over the wall, is a grassy area. I’m not sure when or why it came into being. And quite frankly, I don’t really care. It’s just the way it is. But the night I was there, Tuesday, September 25th, in the year of our Lord 2018, a rat was spotted in the basket on the field side of the wall, trying to jump back over into that grassy area.

I don’t know how he came to be there, but he was working really hard at getting back over that wall. He’d jump, and miss, and fall back into the basket. Then he’d try again. Jump again, miss again, fall again. He’d run up the basket a little farther, turn around, judge the distance, then JUMP!, and miss again, and the crowd would groan. Soon, a chant started, “Go rat go. Go rat go.” Emboldened, he tried yet again. Not only did he miss again, but this time, when he fell into the basket, but also between the basket and the wall, sliding down into the ivy.

Soon, his little head appeared again above the ivy, and the chant began again, “Go rat go. Go rat go.” It was great! And then, with a might leap, and nearly all of the outfield crowd cheering him on, he finally made it! The cheer that went up from the bleachers was the biggest of the night. The funny part was, when I turned around, there was nothing really going on in the game. I don’t know if they were between pitches, or between batters, but there was nothing much going on when the cheer went up. I turned to look at the field, and the players were very confused, having no idea of the seeming life or death struggle that had been going on.

As I journaled this scene, I realized that this could be a metaphor for our lives. We go through life, playing our own game, oblivious of the true life and death struggles going on in other places. Sometimes it’s even quite close by, but we’re so involved in our own little world, we just don’t see it. In fact, two of the people within our group, the two sitting closest to me, had no clue. Once his attention was drawn to the situation the rat was in, the one guy kept saying, “I don’t see it. Where is it?” Even though it was being described, and pointed to, he just wasn’t able to see. Isn’t that the way it is for so many of us? We’re so involved in our own struggles, life and death or otherwise, that we just don’t see what’s going on around us. And if the situation is farther away, the other side of the city, the state, the country, the world, it’s just so much noise, and we just can’t see.

We decided to leave during the eighth inning. The game was a complete bust, with the Cubs losing 6-0, and even though I’m a firm believer in “it ain’t over ’til it’s over,” that game was over, and we needed to beat the traffic out of the park. On the way out, the rat was back. I don’t know if it was a different rat, or if it was the same rat back for more attention. As we were walking out, the chant went up again, and the folks next to me finally saw it. We had changed our position, and they had a different perspective. And they saw the rat.

The reaction was not sympathy, or empathy with the rat, but, “Holy crap! That’s a big rat!” It was just a rat. But they, from a more rural environment, only saw a BIG rat. Rather like 10 of the 12 spies in Numbers 13, “They’re giants. I’m scared.” But this was just a simple rat, stuck in a basket, a situation that it fell into, trying to get back home.

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