Friday, May 13, 2011

Hoop Dreams

Last night I went to Thusday night basketball at LSTC for the last time. During my first two years at seminary, these weekly evenings of basketball shaped my experience here as much as anything. It was when I got to know my classmates beyond the classroom, when we poured out the pent-up energy of our sedentary student lives, and, like the Bulls finally beating the Pistons in ’91, conquered our demons – er, our professors – by winning the annual Student v. Faculty/Staff game for the first time ever. (And yes, our t-shirt jerseys did say “Here We Slam: We Can Do No Other.”)

When I first started going to basketball nights, I stayed pretty quiet. I ran around a lot and played hard on defense, but I didn’t have the confidence to take an active role on offense, didn’t shoot or drive or otherwise take my turn at center stage. But over time, week after week, I slowly grew into my role. I never became D-Rose – that’s not me – but I started taking my open shots, my threes and fast breaks and midrange jumpers. I took an active role alongside teammates who had their own gifts and skills and passions. I found my place.

I didn’t go to Thursday night basketball much this year; it has a different vibe now, and for much of the year I couldn’t bring myself to adapt yet again. Senior year has been hard like that. But last night I went again, one last time. It was hard at first, as it always is, adjusting to a new group of people and finding your place in their midst. But the Spirit moves, even on the hardwood, even when it’s late in the game. By the end of the night, we were running on all cylinders, like a well-oiled machine, or at least like a rusty old jalopy…whatever. We played the game. We finished well. We lived.

In the morning I woke early for graduation rehearsal, one last huddle before Sunday afternoon, when we’ll run our final play before the buzzer sounds on this seminary series and we turn, finally, to face whatever comes next.

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