Here’s a photo of one of the best days of David Bote’s life — August 12, 2018.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 13, 2018
He’s the one running around third base with his arms outstretched. He’s flying because he was put in the game as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The bases were loaded and the Cubs, not having scored all night, were about to lose to the Washington Nationals, 3-0.
With two strikes against him, the pitcher tried to sneak a low fastball past the plate, but Bote hammered it deep into centerfield, over the wall — not just a home run, but a grand-slam. And not just a grand-slam, but, having won the game with a homer in the last half of the last inning, Bote gets to “walk off” the field a winner — a grand-slam walk-off home run.
In baseball, it doesn’t get much better than that. And the joy is evident in his teammates waiting for him at home plate. The moment he touches the plate, the game will be over and the Cubs will have won.
Look at the third base coach, the first who gets to congratulate Bote—he’s a forerunner, a welcome home scout. Look at the players in the red shirts — those are pitchers who didn’t play that night because they were resting their arms. As soon as the ball cleared the wall, they sprinted from the bullpen to join the crowd at home. See the Cubs gathered around the plate, hugging each other, exuberant, shouting. The umpires provide a cold counterpoint to the scene — judges ensuring Bote touches all the bases. The crowd in the stands are euphoric — jumping, cheering, laughing.
The scene captures such a human response — in moments of triumph we want to reach out to touch someone else, we want to share what we’re feeling. Joy spills out of us — it can’t be helped. Most of the fans in the scene don’t know each other, but we see them grabbing each other, giving high-fives. They are suddenly jubilant friends — the moment has made them into family.
Baseball resonates with so many people because it is a representation of the journey we all make in life. We begin with our family in the dugout, then we take our turn in the world alone at the plate. We wander out along the base paths and separate ourselves to see how far we can go. We use our wits and will to advance, and one day we come around third and return home, back where we belong, where we are known, with people who love us.
It’s this reunion, this return that echoes in our spirits as hope. We all hope we are not alone in the end, that our loved ones, when they depart from us, are never truly gone. Images like this speak to that hope — they spark something within us. We recognize that joy, we long for it, we want it to be true for us as well.
Where did that desire come from? Why do moments like this ricochet around in our hearts? Could it be that we are made for such glory — that reunion is strung through our DNA and restoration lives in our bones?
Won’t that be what heaven feels like — coming home?