Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"It could happen!"

Angels in the Outfield—great movie. Saw it on DVD last night. The arm-flapping scene at the end always makes me cry.

It's the story of a young boy looking for a family. His dad says he'll come back and get him "when the Angels win the Pennant," as in baseball. The boy then prays for divine help so the Los Angeles Angels team will win the Pennant that year. And lo and behold, actual angels appear on the field (only to the boy) to help the players go down in baseball history.

They make it to the last game before winning, but then the angels pull out, saying even angels can't decide things like the Pennant—it has to be up to the players. And it's the boy's youthful belief in them that gets the players through. By the end, you see that throughout, the real point was for the boy to find a family.

*Sniff.*

The boy's sidekick, a sweet little fellow with unending faith, has a mantra of, "It could happen!" He says it whenever he's wishing for something beyond the pale. I realized I picked up that phrase from the movie when I saw it long ago. I go around saying, "It could happen!" myself in moments when I need encouragement.

Faith, like hope, is one of those essential stepping stones to spiritual understanding. Faith is the conviction that there's something more going on than what our physical senses tell us. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

And I think we forget what life would be like if all we ever believed was what our senses were telling us right this moment. There's a heat wave in the United States right now, yet we have faith that cooler times are coming. If we just believed our senses, we'd think this heat would last forever. Sure, we have prior memory of cooler times, but looking to the future with confidence that the heat will break is a statement of faith.

Our senses tell us that we've just argued with a loved one, but faith assures us that the relationship isn't over. Our senses tell us that we're facing an illness, but faith comforts us with the promise of healing. Faith allows us to imagine a better outcome not told by the senses, and helps us take the first steps to realize this outcome.

Call it optimism, call it buoyancy, call it expectation, call it "looking on the bright side"—whatever you call it, cultivate it. Start each elevation of the human situation with the bright conviction, "It could happen!" See the promise—then realize it.


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