How can I tell you what the hard leather felt like in my hands? It was something I lived.
Sucking the cold air deep into myself, holding it inside until it was warm, watching the exhale hang before my face. And then the doors creaking open. That hollow sound of potential energy as we filed into the gym. Shoes squeaking on the hardwood.
I knew the ball. The deep brown-orange, pebbled leather. The thick veins. It pulsed in my hand upon arrival, and I pumped it between my palms, bringing it into my body, to my chest, elbows out. This place, this radius was mine, and I could keep it.
Shooting guard. Pancoast. Number 33. My game high was 29 points (against Cal High School, Halloween night, 1999). I'll never forget the stretch in my tricep, the extension, the spin off my pointer finger.
But beyond the satisfaction of the shots, the swishes, was the beauty of the sport itself.
Glistening girls charging and streaking up and down the court, circling and spinning around the key. Color. Melodious voices, sopranos and altos, calling plays and calling to each other. Harmony. Hands and fingers slapping and snapping together. Rhythm. Whistles and applause. Music.
The game was beautiful enough to warrant the harsh practices and the incessant running up and down the metal bleachers.
But if the idea is left alone long enough, denied by the naïve author's mind because it isn't sweet or pretty, it will rise from the brine as an ogre she never dreamed she could conceive. And at that point, it may be too late to find a constructive outlet for her creation.
As actor Daniel Day-Lewis (of Last of the Mohicans fame) once remarked on his process when preparing for a new movie role:
"In those quiet months before you approach the dreaded beast, you begin to enter into a world that isn't yours. People are always reading some sort of craziness into that, but it seems logical to me."
this is a plaintive whisper
tossed into the extended palms
of my ever-fickle playmate
she is statuesque, commanding
unnervingly lovely and bright
living like she means it
and sometimes yearning for me
i can see the deep creases
in the skin of her hands
taut and grasping
tendons fighting 'round her fingers
at times i want her to stand beside me
swinging a pickaxe as we are
singing the songs of the prisoners
in the yellow weeds at the roadside
but not today
my only desire is to be lifted
by those familiar hands
carried to the place
where my dreams are stowed
let her take on the burden
for she knows not shackles
nor has she ever tasted resignation
one hundred thousand steps left on this road
and i plan to take them all
tomorrow i will wake with ambition
laying kisses on my brow
and dawn will find two hollow shackles
broken on the ground
I was recently asked if I considered myself to be a "good Christian."
My answer was, "Well, I'm a good person."
A good person obeys the law, loves her husband, encourages her friends, pays taxes and showers regularly. And yes, with the exception of the occasional (unreasonable) speed limit, I fit this mold.
Not that I deserve accolades for it, or anything. Being a good person is easy.
Stand up to give your seat to an elderly person on BART. Drop your change in the tip cup at Starbucks. Pay your late fees at the library. Tell your coworker how much you love her new scarf. It's easy.
And it has very little to do with being a Christian.
My Sunday school class recently spent the better part of an hour debating whether we could convey God's love to strangers by allowing extra cars to merge on 580 East during rush hour. Leaving the room, Jonathan rolled his eyes. Christianity as a lifestyle does, or should, trickle down into our everyday lives. Our mundane activities should marinate in Christian values and virtues before we go about doing them. But what does it really mean to be a "good Christian"?