Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Passing/Chalk It Up To Experience

Today, I learned of the death of the mother of one of my high school basketball teammates and the death of the brother of another teammate from that same squad. Death in a team strikes home even decades later. This is the combination of two blogs about two of my teams. It's from May 15, 2013. 
When I was in second grade, my brother Dave and I were in a college play playing basically ourselves, two young brothers. The name of the play was All The Way Home, the adaptation of the James Agee autobiographical novel, A Death In The Family. I thought of that this morning as we suffered a death in our school family and our team family. One of the young ladies on the Lady Wildcats lost her mom during the night. She had only been diagnosed with cancer in the past several weeks and her decline was rapid. The mom was an awesome lady! Active in our school affairs, she and her husband raised two terrific sons besides their wonderful daughter and I was blessed to teach all three. This morning, we met in our church courtyard as the other nine girls grieved and mourned with their teammate and friend who found the strength to come to school. I told them the story below, reprinted from May 21, 2007. And we prayed, as you can see in the picture above. It's a diverse group of sixth-seventh-eighth graders; black, white, Latino, Asian. God sees no colors or ethnic origins and neither do these girls. That's one of the myriad of reasons why I love them so much. So, please keep a family in prayer as they rely on faith and navigate through the coming days and weeks and months. And pray for those who love them that we may be the comforters that He would have us to be.

Chalk It Up To Experience

Finals started this morning. The word defines itself, doesn't it? The school year is within feet of the finish line that for me at least appeared out of nowhere. Today was my easy day. The three testing periods, first-fourth-seventh, are my basketball practice class and my two planning hours. Normally, my middle school team takes a written exam, essays covering areas of improvement and memories of the season. This spring, I decided our final would consist of having the girls write letters to an elderly woman who lives in the neighborhood and deliver them in person. The Christian lady, Louise Rundell, cares for her mid-90s Alzheimer's patient husband while dealing with her own increasing health issues. Unfortunately, her daughter was injured in a fall last week and the object of our visit went to the other side of Houston to take care of her. I still had the kids write letters- and they were touching- but we couldn't deliver them today. Coaching requires flexibility and our testing periods last ninety minutes. Borrowing sidewalk chalk from our art department, I took the girls to the adjacent church courtyard where we spent six weeks practicing last autumn while a new floor was being installed in our gym. The courtyard is divided into fifteen feet concrete squares. At the end of every practice, we talk and pray. I had the girls turn the cement where we stood so many times back in the fall into a canvas. One section was devoted to what we say when we stack it up at the beginning and end of practice: 1-2-3 TOGETHER! The girls covered the other square with their names, numbers, and exact dates we spent in the great outdoors. If you give this assignment to middle school boys, their reaction would be, "This is stupid." My girls had a blast. They spent close to forty five minutes covering their hands with pastel-colored chalk, arguing about who made the best/worst letters, and turning slabs of rock into beautiful easels. Predictably, they wanted to take pictures so I let them pull out their phones and shoot away. We returned to the school building with one last memory on the last day this group will ever be together as a team. Davinci would have been proud.

You know what happened this afternoon, don't you? It rained. Actually, it was more like a continuous wave of monsoons. I think we might have received several inches of the wet stuff, great for lawns but brutal on chalk paintings. I didn't have to check. I knew our masterpiece swirled into the drain mere hours after its creation. It's like it never existed....but it did. The memories of young ladies and snapshots from cell phones testify to its brief and yet glorious life. Truthfully, I'm glad that it went that way, still in pristine condition rather than being slowly smudged to death by the patter of kindergarten feet. I preach to my students/players the brevity of life and the need to be prepared. The author of James defines life as, "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14) Sort of applicable for my team today, isn't it? Ironically, the lady we were to have visited this morning has remained for nearly nine decades, including more than sixty years of marriage. Our mural quickly served its purpose. The Lord's not finished with Louise yet.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you."
Annie Dillard

God bless,
Luke 18:1

me at

1 comment:

Janera said...

I'm not even sure how I found your blog this morning, but I'm glad I did.

I'm a Texan, too; and a teacher; and a Christian who desires mission work; I like your blog, this post especially.