Lisa and I just finished playing a game of HORSE, but she wanted a handicap so for me it was PIG and for her it was DONKEY. I won't say who won because that's not really the point. The most striking thing is that at age almost-63 we can still shoot a basketball. Sort of.
It's been a long time. I couldn't find either of my outdoor basketballs after searching everywhere in the garage, but I found my beautiful indoor ball that is never supposed to be used on pavement. But who am I kidding if I think I'm saving this for my next game of full-court basketball on the hardwood? So Wilson is now an honorary outdoor basketball, dignified by games of PIG/DONKEY on a rickety old hoop that is far too generous with shots that get anywhere close to the rim. Once I found the ball and inflated it from 0 to 13 pounds, I started shooting a bit and it all seemed surprisingly familiar. My brain still wants to call what I do a jump shot, though my toes would disagree.
Then there's my guitar, which I started playing again after a 40 year hiatus. I couldn't find my old guitar either (I think I sold it at a garage sale), so Lisa bought me a new one.
My first impulse is to say I'm reclaiming some lost skills, but that's not true. I'll never reclaim those years of three-times-a-week basketball that brought so much joy to my soul as it conditioned my heart. And I'll never be able to play a guitar riff well with these clumsy old hands that have mixed far too many bags of concrete to ever be nimble again. No, I'm not reclaiming anything. I'm just remembering.
But maybe remembering is terribly important. One of my favorite Frederick Buechner books, A Room Called Remember, holds a smattering of thoughts so deep and wide they are impossible to summarize, but here's a sentence that showed up tonight near a driveway basketball hoop:
To remember the past is to see that we are here today by grace, that we have survived as a gift.
Trying to reclaim my skills at basketball or guitar-playing or most anything else I did reasonably well as a young man is bound to frustrate and disappoint, but if I can let Wilson serve as a tangible leather-in-the-hand remembering, then I am ushered into an awareness of unforgettable grace. It's one thing to focus on all the losses of time gone by, and quite another to remember all the gifts the past has offered.
Today I choose to open my eyes to countless gifts of grace, visiting as precious memories.