It was beautiful at Wrigley Field this past Sunday. With the Cubs coming down off the high of winning the National League Central Division, the sun shining down casting streams of light across the outfield bleachers seemed appropriate. A warm, light breeze swayed the flags above the centerfield scoreboard ever so gently. The scent of salty meat and freshly popped kernels flooded the air, and the cheering of the crowd lifted the energy around the family section to a roaring capacity. There’s nothing like a crowded ballpark on a Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing like Wrigley Field on a Sunday afternoon.
The backyard ballpark is what I like to think of it as, and people come from all over the city and suburbs just to cheer on their beloved Cubbies. The Cubs are not just a baseball team to their fans. The Cubs are family; I’ve quickly learned to realize. And Matt and I feel honored to be a part of it.
One of our good friends and Matt’s former football and baseball teammate from Villanova made a surprise visit into town and caught the game that day. He didn’t have much time to stick around after, having a flight to catch two hours later. With a quick hug hello and a quick hug good-bye, he was on his way back to New York. But he slipped something into Matt’s hand before he left.
When Matt got home, he pulled a little pouch out of his pocket and put it in front of me on the coffee table. I read the directions taped onto the front of the pouch, still not knowing what the contents inside were. The directions were as follows:
Turkey Fig Seeds: Plant the fig seeds ¼ inch deep in a rich potting soil and keep warm 75-80. Mist and make sure the soil never dries out. If the watering displaces the soil, sprinkle a bit more soil on top to gently cover the seeds. In 10 to 24 days, you should see the first sprouts.
Turkey fig seeds. A tiny bit larger than a grain of sand. I opened the pouch and sprinkled a few in my hand, swirling them around in my palm. When I looked up, I saw Matt looking at my palm, smiling.
“I don’t get it,” I said. “What’s the significance?”
“It’s the parable of the fig tree,” Matt said.
He picked up his phone, texted his friend and thanked him for the reminder. Then he grabbed the baseball bat he keeps in the corner of the living room and began practicing his swing.
“Are you going to tell me what the significance is?” I asked him again.
“It’s simple,” he said. “You plant a fig tree hoping that it grows fruit, even though there’s no guarantee. But the catch is that you do it anyway, and it takes time for the tree to grow. You have to care for it by watering it. You have to make sure it has sunlight. You have to keep it warm. You need to have patience.”
“And if you take care of it, you might actually see a fruit growing off the branches.”
“So the moral of the story is you need to have patience.”
“Yes,” he said. “And if you have patience and do all the little things that matter to make the fig tree grow, your end result is fruit. That’s your reward for all your hard work.”
“I like that moral,” I said.
“Yes,” Matt said. “So do I.”
He picked up his bat again and continued to swing.