We dribble and pass the ball, spelling out horse as we go. The one, he’s tall and broad with dark hair. He’s the one I’ve invited. He’s brought along a shorter, thinner, not quite yet maturing freshman friend. We’re not quite old enough to be on our own yet. We wouldn’t have a clue what to do if we were. We’re in the backyard, on the court, where my family has their names in the concrete.
They keep adding letters and I keep swishing. They’re surprised and I’m just happy they’re happy. If I can impress them, then my job is complete–he’ll like me, I’m sure of it.
We don’t know what else to do so we keep dribbling and we keep passing and we keep swishing all afternoon until it’s time for them to go. I don’t know what time it is when we start our walk inside, but I can still see the light passing through the living room windows.
We stop in the foyer and decide to say our goodbye. Things get silent and awkward fast. I forget to close my eyes when he leans in. The way it feels, this must be his first too. I spy his sidekick over his shoulder with my open eyes and he laughs at us.
We say our awkward goodbyes, trying to ignore what just happened. I’ve given him all my efforts and one of my firsts and I’m not sure I ever see him again.
Twenty two years later and I’ve invited another boy to my house. I’m trying to get to know him and so I do one of the few things I know how to do. I start dribbling and start shooting and start with the h out in the driveway-turned-court.
I’m not doing too bad and he’s surprised. I think I might have earned a little respect.
I dribble over to the edge of the court. The sun is beginning to set and his little body makes a silhouette in the setting sun as he takes another shot center court. This time I pause and I smile and enjoy the beauty of the little boy. So much pain in his past to overcome.
My mind triggers back to the other boy on the court.
I remember working so hard to impress. But this time it’s not a striving but a resting. An innocence. And I expect nothing in return.
I’m doing it, the Spirit whispers. I’m redeeming all those times you tried to earn their love and came up empty. Keep pouring out my love to him so he knows about me and I’ll keep pouring back in.
I watch him throw over and over, trying to make it, trying to get my attention. He doesn’t know yet he doesn’t need to strive. “Mommy, did you see that, did you?”
I do, son, I do.
I’m beginning to see it all, now.
Thus says the LORD, “The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness– Israel,
when it went to find its rest.”
The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness