“Hey! Go, Cubs!”
It was the refrain of a recent trip to Philadelphia. We were in town to see a baseball game but decided to take in the history of the city beforehand. The four of us, clad in our Cubs garb, walked the streets where our country was born.
I wondered whether we should show our fan pride all day in the opponent’s city. Would it be dangerous to be such obvious fans of the other team?
We had barely set foot in the historical district when a uniformed officer began yelling at us. At first, we thought we had done something wrong, but as we approached him and tuned our ears, we realized he was joking with us about our attire.
Walking up to the security screening for Independence Hall, my husband began to empty his pockets.
The uniformed officer there said, “You know it doesn’t really matter what you do, none of you are getting in here.” We held our breaths for a moment, then he cracked a wide grin and we chatted baseball.
It went on this way all day. We approached fellow Cubs fans and talked about our team and our plans for seeing the game. We had dozens of conversations with strangers, people we would never meet again. Even a Red Sox fan stopped to talk to us, wishing our team the best of luck because he knows how it has felt to be so long without a title worthy team.
There is solidarity in suffering, even if it is something as simple as baseball.
Sometimes when you leave your homeland, you wonder if you’ll ever see a friendly face again, but we had nothing to fear by wearing our Cubs shirts in Philly. We were not at all alone in our fandom. Chicago Cubs fans travel well. We met a family who had driven to Philly from Iowa to catch a game. Dedication.
At the ballpark, we rode an elevator full of Phillies’ fans and we walked out unscathed. A Phillies fan in the row behind us gave our daughter a baseball he got from the Cubs’ bullpen. We could recount dozens of stories and conversations like these.
On the drive back to Lancaster, we talked about these happenings. How in the past, we would lament with other Cubs’ fans during the season, and how this year, our joy is uncontainable, even with strangers.
“Go, Cubs!” we yelled in the streets of Philadelphia. And with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, we stood in the stands of our not-home stadium and cheered, believing that our team could turn things around. This is not the way I was raised as a Cubs fan. Hope is an unfamiliar feeling.
Sometimes the world around us can make us lose hope. We lament and suffer with others who are walking similar paths, experiencing various levels of suffering. Sometimes there is good news for someone else. Sometimes the good news is ours.
And sometimes we spread the good news when we recognize the suffering in someone else. Sometimes we have to tell the world what team we’re on, even if it’s something we wouldn’t choose like Team Cancer or Team Broken Relationship so we can discover others who are on the same team.
We give each other hope when we go public with our sufferings. Maybe we don’t literally wear a T-shirt that says, “I’m battling cancer,” but maybe we tell one person, or a room full of people, about the struggle. And we learn that they have struggled, too. They have been where we are.
If we’ve suffered long, hope can be an unfamiliar feeling. But maybe knowing we’re not the only ones will give us the strength and courage to face the final innings, whatever they bring, with a sense that we could get through this and it might turn out okay.
The Cubs lost that game. And they’ve lost a few games since then. But hope is a funny thing. A little can go a long way. And once you’ve had a taste of it, you want a little more.