It is the last half of the ninth inning and John is trying to preserve a one run lead with a runner on every base and only one out. As he focuses on the catcher’s mitt the players on the opposing team try to rattle him and break his concentration. They yell and taunt. They hurl insults and dares. As he tries to focus, they try to distract. As he pursues the gold, they try to steal it.
The twelve year-old pitcher is going through a difficult but age-old process. He is learning how to block out the negativity and distracting antics of others so as to protect his focus on the game and the task at hand. The boys on the other team do not mean to help him, but in a way they are. They are preparing him for life.
Sometimes your detractors and discouragers are outside of you, people jealous of your progress or passion, perhaps. Sometimes they come from within, the echoing voices of those who were critical of you when you were young, for example.
It is difficult to play the game of life well if you get caught up in negativity and other forms of distraction. Let your soul and your vocation be your catcher’s mitt. Keep your focus on that mitt and let everything else fall away. Be in the zone of your life’s calling. Nothing else really matters.