A Baseball Team

Their seventh child had been born, and I told the father his family is now a baseball team. “There are nine of you.” I, of course, act as if the designated hitter rule doesn’t exist.
    (There are many other things I live as if they don’t exist: sonograms that tell the sex of an unborn child, for instance.)
    The father instantly put his wife down as the catcher. It might be that it’s the most settled place for a person who has just given birth.
    I’d put the baby in center field for now. He’s the center of attention anyway.
    The toddler and the three-year-old can have left and right field, respectively. There’s a lot of room out there to run around. To fall down. To laugh and ham it up.
    The pitcher, I think, should be the nine-year-old. He has a good head for strategy, and a good mouth.
    The girls, who are eleven and seven, should take first and third base, framing the scene. The five-year-old could be at second.
    The father takes short stop. He’s a kind of boundary figure between infield and outfield.
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    A family of six that I once knew—the young ones now are long grown and dispersed—formed a small ensemble with various recorders. Rather medieval, one might think, to get your family to play music together, to have your family as your own built-in mini-orchestra. But super-medieval to do it all with recorders.
    I never heard their music, but knowing the father, I know it was performed enthusiastically.
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    Six (have I told you this before?) is a perfect number. A number is perfect if it is equal to the sum of its parts. A “part” of a number is a factor of it, something that goes into it without remainder. One is a part of six; one goes into six six times. Two is a part of six, it goes into six three times. Three is a part of six, it goes into six two times. Four is not a part of six: it only goes into six once, and you have two left over. Ditto for five.
    So the parts of six are 1, 2, and 3. And 1+2+3=6. So six is perfect.
    The perfect numbers are rather few and far between. If you know a six-year-old child, you know someone who is perfect. (Of course.) If you are 28 years old, you are also perfect (1+2+4+7+14=28). If you are 496 years old, you are again perfect. (Do the math if you want to.)
    But, sorry folks, there’s no perfection between 28 and 496.
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    A lecturer once declared, “Jane Austen wrote a perfect number of perfect novels.” I later heard the rejoinder, “Six is also the number of beers in a six-pack.”
    But who says that’s not perfect?
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    Of course, nothing is ever really perfect. A six-year-old turns seven turns seventeen turns seventy-seven. But amateurs can love to try to perform old music, and duffers can love the divine sport on the diamond. And you can love Emma while drinking a beer. It’s not perfection that warms our heart, but something else, something that’s there to be felt, no matter one's own situation, when one learns a new baby has been born.

 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Victor Lee Austin is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Losing Susan: Brain Disease, the Priest's Wife, and the God who Gives and Takes Away."