I got a glimpse of God’s reign Monday at the Royals game.
Yes, the Royals lost (and they lost again today) – nothing new there. Yes, there were the usual inebriated jackasses – nothing new there. Yes, there was a young woman in the right field stands flashing her breasts at anyone in the crowd in exchange for a drink of their beer – somebody remind me what dignity means, again? Yes, there was an enormous crowd and it took us forever to get into and out of the stadium – that will only happen on opening day, guaranteed.
But in spite of all that stuff, I am sure that I witnessed a little bit of the reign of God on earth. Now, this is a metaphor, and all metaphors are limited, and this particular metaphor may be more limited than most, but nonetheless there it was. It all started when my son had to go potty.
“Dad, I gotta go potty,” said Wes. He never plans ahead, but waits until the last possible moment to consider his pottying options.
“Okay, let’s go,” I replied, and we made our way out of our aisle, trying not to step on our neighbors’ feet as we passed (“Dad, I really gotta go!”), up the steps (“It’s a ‘mergency!”), and out into the concession area (“DAD, HURRY!”) … where we found a line of about fifty men backed up coming out of the Men’s bathroom door. Damn.
And here is where the grace of God was made manifest. Apparently, the sight of a five year old boy who really, really needs to go to the bathroom, face contorted in the effort, hands clutching his … jeans … in hopes of preventing an overflow, is enough to make even fifty beery men feel enough of a twinge of compassion to give up their place in line and allow someone else’s need to come before their own. Every man in the line – young, old, white, black, Hispanic, rich, poor, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, whatever – every single one gave up his own place to allow Wes and me to go into the bathroom first. It was a truly universal moment.
We passed by man after man, saying, “Sorry, he really has to go” and “Excuse me, we have a real emergency here” and “Do you mind, he’s about to blow” and stuff like that. Not a single complaint, not a single ugly remark, not a single grouchy protest came our way. All the way up the line, through the door, and to the row of urinals we wove through the crowd. And (pause for dramatic effect) … we made it!
As silly as it sounds, I was actually moved by the gesture. The fifty men in the line, as different as they were, were in that moment united in their compassion for one suffering child. Each one could relate to the situation, I am sure, and so each one displayed a bit of empathy – EVERY one of them. I would understand if three or four had shouted out “HEY!” or “Watch it, buddy!” or something. But no one did. Not a single man.
It was a glimpse of God’s reign on earth because the diversity of that line of fifty men was absolutely united in this gesture of compassion to a stranger. They came together as one in order to help a fellow traveler reach the journey’s end. Yes, it is an insignificant, silly little story. But the church would do well to take a lesson here. That which divides us is not as powerful as that which unites us. And when all is said and done, the powerful force of unity in the cause of serving a neighbor is indeed a glimpse of the fulfillment of God's desire for creation.