Getting (Re)Grounded at the Ballpark

Rabbi Harris with the Syracuse Chiefs’ mascot, Pops

I am writing this blog from Syracuse, NY.  I am not visiting the Carrier Dome or participating in the 2018 US Bowling Congress Championship (yes, that is actually a thing taking place in Syracuse).  I am in the midst of a road trip visiting baseball stadiums large and small.  It is my chance to unplug for a few days, enjoy some baseball and many points of interest between the towns.  This year my trip has included Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse and will end in Hartford.  The side trips have included Deep Creek Lake, Niagara Falls, Seneca Falls, the Andy Warhol museum, a Segway tour, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, walking into a few unexpected restaurants to listen to music and lots of quiet time.  To answer your questions: yes, I have done this before and yes, I go alone. (Thank you Rebekah!)

It takes a few days on the road to quiet my mind.  I have learned to guard against overly filling my vacation schedule with too many activities, plans and schedules.  When I overschedule my vacation, the gift I intend to offer myself never materializes.  It is the gift of being able to listen and reconnect with myself. 

I cherish these handful of summer days.  They allow me to clear my head.  It is a way to care for myself.  With this cherished quiet, I journal frequently and reflect on what is happening in my life.  I write about the immediate pressures and about my dreams and hopes for myself and my family.  I write about my own shortcoming which sometimes I have recognized.  I write about foibles which sometimes have been pointed out to me.

I reground myself.

So many of us feel ungrounded.  CNN, FOX and others are making it hard to escape news cycles.  Too many of us are addicted to electronic devices which help with professional efficiencies but exacerbates so many other stresses.  Our lives are filled with noise which we create and noise to which we acquiesce.

In many ways, these summer days are my personal detox.  They act as my own Aseret Yemei Teshuva, Days of Reflection / Repentance.  Unencumbered by social media, emails, and headlines, I use these days for self-reflection. I try to see where I have fallen short and challenge myself to do better.

The baseball games simply give my road trip direction.  It is everything that happens between the games though which give it purpose.

We are only 5 weeks away from Rosh Hashanah.  I suggest that you use some of these remaining summer days to journal and reflect for yourself.  The crush of September / Tishrei will return faster than we expect.  If you begin your personal reflections during the summer, I promise these High Holidays will be more meaningful.

It is hard to live our lives intentionally but summer gives me the chance to get regrounded and refocused towards that effort.  It might work for you too.

Plus, take it from me – self-reflection is a lot more fun at a ballgame. (Especially like last night’s 12 inning game with 5 runs scored during extra innings and a win for the Chiefs.)

Shabbat Shalom

*The picture is me and the Syracuse Chiefs’ mascot Pops.  The Chiefs are the Washington Nationals’ AAA affiliate.

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris


Rebecca Naomi Greenwood

Dear Rabbi Greg,
Thank you so much for writing about this important time for yourself.
I am so happy for you that you have this opportunity to recharge. Thinking about what your life must be like all year long, I realize you are “on” much of the time, even during Shabbat, especially when you are on the Bimah.
Since my retirement, I have had more time to think about what is important in life and have been trying to act on not only knowing myself, but also doing more that makes my life meaningful and happy. You have inspired me to get back to writing, too. For awhile I was writing compositions about my life with the intention of giving it to my family as little memoirs. But I lost momentum. Now I plan to get back to it. These few weeks prior to Yom Tov are the perfect time for reflection and writing!
Enjoy your time and come home refreshed! You have my full support in this and always.

Linda B Kolko

Rabbi Greg:

Your fun photo made me read your blog and I’m glad I did. As Naomi so eloquently stated above, we all need time to reflect and identify what is truly meaningful in our lives. A baseball game is a great place to reflect and just relax, something even we retirees don’t do enough! You have inspired me to read more “Reflections off the Bimah”.


Leave a Reply