Many of us at NFESH are… well, honestly… what some might call rabid baseball fans. For years now we have faithfully supported our “hometown team,” the Washington Nationals. And over the course of those years we have come to consider many of the players to be friends. Maybe that is a stretch, but they certainly became more to us than just familiar faces.
In the past, when we frequented the games in person, and now as we faithfully follow our team on television, we frequently were and are now having to learn new names. Yes, the so-called trade deadline has pushed owners into decision-making. That has resulted in their releasing some of our favorite players to other teams and their bringing on new and unfamiliar ones. In one sense it is a bittersweet adjustment for us fans. In another it is an opportunity. We miss those players who haven’t returned, as we are learning the names of the new ones and coming to appreciate them in the process.
By now you may be scratching your head, saying that’s nice you suppose. But you may be a bit perplexed about the relevance of that experience in this context. That’s a fair question. The connection that we see is simply this. Like ball parks and the numerous other places that people traditionally assembled– but were temporarily shuttered over the past year — senior centers across the country too are or will soon be opening up again.
When the centers open, they’ll be both welcoming back those older members of the community who regularly dined at congregate meals programs and be inviting and receiving new participants as well. As that occurs, for a whole host of reasons, they will also certainly find that some of the regular attendees from the past won’t be sitting around the lunch table.
For a whole host of reasons, the faces around the table, like those around the bases, will have changed a bit. Some of the regulars doubtless will not be returning. At the same time, new members of the community will be coming through the door to enjoy meals and build friendships.
The chance to break bread together with old acquaintances and, at the same time, to get to know new ones is a lot like baseball. It’s about renewing old relationships and cultivating new friendships and “team loyalties.”
We know from experience that they can and will grow as precious as the ones of the past.