It's hurricane season again and folks on the Gulf Coast always anxiously watch weather reports for developments in the tropics. You can never tell, perhaps a storm will come up this fall and force the evacuation of myself and other Houstonians. What would you take if you had to leave? Here are my thoughts on what I think is among my most valuable possessions. It is from January 12, 2006. Beauty remains in the eye of the beholder.
Like a million of my fellow Houstonians, I attempted to evacuate the Bayou City with the advance of Hurricane Rita in September. Our mayor, Bill White, made the recommendation that if you could leave, you should leave. Remember, this was scant weeks after the devastation that Katrina leveled on our eastern neighbor, New Orleans. It was an evacuation which devolved into chaos. Sixteen hours on 59 North netted me only fifty miles on my attempted escape to relatives in Arkansas. As I prepared to make my exodus, I had decisions to make on what I should take just in case the Worst Possible Scenario, a direct hit from a Category 5 storm, came to pass. (We were spared: Rita came ashore further east than predicted.) Some choices on my packing list were easy: enough clothes and toiletries to get by were obvious. Others were personal. There was no way I would leave my passport behind- it was so hard to obtain one in the first place. I needed extra copies of the book I authored- never know when I might make a sale! One thing I neglected? WATER!! I came as close to dehydration as I have in my life which could have had disastrous consequences. I now leave two unopened bottles of water in my refrigerator as a reminder. This is no lie. After twelve hours on the highway in 95 degree weather with no AC for fear of running out of gas, I was dreaming about the water fountain outside of our school weight room!
There was something else I took with me when I left town. I brought it to school in a safety deposit box this week and told my students it was tremendously valuable. When I let them guess, no one was close. I gave several hints. I worked fourteen years to get it and I wouldn't trade it for a thousand dollars in cash. That shed no light either. I opened the box and there it was..... my high school basketball practice jersey. Some students thought I was joking. It's tattered and faded (but it would still fit!) The style is obsolete and it's made of heavy cotton instead of mesh like current athletic gear. Here's the point. I knew from the time I was little I wanted to play on the high school basketball team in York, Nebraska. I dedicated my life to getting that piece of cloth. It cost me countless hours, bloody noses, gut wrenching emotional distress, near frostbite from winter nights shooting in the driveway, and embarrassment from personal failures, but it was worth everything and more. The experience helped mold me into who I am. I made the observation in class that Jacob worked fourteen years to win Rachel as his bride. I asked the girls if there was any doubt that Jacob loved Rachel. The unanimous answer was no- you don't give that much of your life if you're not sure of what you are fighting for.
It's a nice little story with a good application, but as we reviewed for a test in sophomore Bible today, we covered Jesus' teaching about laying up treasures in heaven. What does the Lord say will happen to earthly treasure? It goes the way of all things physical; moths, rust, and thieves. Everything we work so hard for down here- looks, wealth, intellect, fame- will fade even before we die. Basketball, symbolized by that gold and blue jersey, was life to me but it wasn't eternal. The really important things can never fit in a lock box.
Applicable quote of the day:
"I have memories- but only a fool stores his past in the future."
Steve (York High Dukes- Guard - 6'1"- #32)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org