About a month ago, I walked into Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a basketball. I’d been thinking about it for a couple of years. I admit, it’s a bit unusual for a man near 60 to be buying sports equipment that isn’t golf-related. But I bought it anyway. The clerk thought it was for a grandchild.
I keep it in my car. It rolls and bumps as I turn corners. When I have some extra time, I stop by an outdoor court and shoot baskets. Some of them go in. But it’s not the shooting percentage that I’m after, it’s the muscle memory. The recalled motion makes me feel alive. It takes me back to a time of fluid movement, to a time when I could fly. Usually, I’m in street clothes and the only person on the court. “Look! Grandpa is shooting baskets,” I imagine people commenting as they pass by, “How cute!”
But I am not “cute.” I am vibrant. I dribble, pivot and shoot. The sound on the pavement is just as it was 40 years ago – a pulse – a rhythm. This is why I bought the basketball – to revive that rhythm – to reset something vibrant. It isn’t just that shooting baskets makes me feel young (since it also makes me feel old); shooting baskets makes me remember who I am. That is, for a few moments, I remember that I am a creature through whom life flows.
This may sound silly if you don’t like basketball. But many people have this sense of the gift of life embedded in an activity of their youth; dancing, singing, running, building, learning. The activity was their way of receiving/expressing the life given to them. They felt life flow through them. This is what Eric Liddell (Olympic runner) meant, when he said, “God made me fast. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
Shooting baskets is, for me, a form of gratitude – a way to remember who I am – a creature to whom God gives, simply gives, His love. At bottom, isn’t that what gratitude is – remembering that God gives? And then finding ways to receive it and express it?
So this Grandpa is going to keep the basketball in his car. I will dribble, pivot and shoot. I will try to revive the muscle memory of gratitude. Gratitude revives my memory of who God really is – the Giver of Life – the one who somehow takes pleasure in me. Gratitude restores me back to who I really am – a receiver of the grace of God. Swish.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals & couples, Roger teaches & leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana & earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UNCC. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.