Since we moved to Croatia, many people have asked me what I miss most about the States. My response is #1: Family and friends, and #2: Baseball.
Of course the former makes a lot of sense. The latter, on the other hand, in a culture where baseball is just in the movies, takes most off guard.
Regardless, my most recent trips to the States represent these two reasons. Last year I went to western New York to celebrate my grandparents’ 70 years of marriage . This year, in fact, right now, I am arriving in Boston to enjoy the Cubs' first trip to the World Series in 71 years.
That may sound like a trivial reason to cross the Atlantic, but this is where I come back to reason #1. Having gained a love for the Cubs from my father and having shared it with my brother, it will be a joy to watch several games with them. I'll also be able to visit close friends in Chicago, whom I haven’t seen in three years, and whose children I’ve never met. I will be able to have my cake and eat it too.
This of course would not be possible if it weren’t for a generous gift in the form of a plane ticket from Croatia to Boston and a loving wife who initiated the trip.
I deserve this gift right? My loyalty to the Cubs has been strong since watching them lose to the Giants in the 1989 NLCS. I’ve suffered through 0-14 in 1997, Alex Gonzalez’s error in ’03 and consecutive Wild Card sweeps in ’07 and ’08. I wore my Cubs gear to middle school in a time and place where it made me a loser - if not a lovable one.
But no, I don’t deserve it. We’re committed to a life on the other side of the ocean. We have responsibilities in Zagreb, and by the way, my love for the Cubs has done nothing to actually make them as good as they are. No, there’s really no merit for me going to the States to enjoy watching them in the World Series.
This gift, from those who paid for it and enabled me to go, was free and initiated out of genuine love. Yes, as I fly over the Atlantic I am reminded of God’s free gift of grace which is immeasurably more valuable. And I am thankful.