May 28, 2024
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If you’re interested in watching a bunch of incredibly cute ants race-crawling all over themselves on a basketball court, I’d suggest finding a game featuring teams of mostly six-year-olds.  

That’s the entertainment my wife and I sought on a recent Friday evening, and entertained we were! Even the refs were entertaining—and wise. I don’t think either of them ever whistled out a “walking” call, but they regularly reminded the participants that the ball needs to be bounced. And several players, including one we were watching particularly closely, received kind admonition to release their death-grip on the ball once the whistle was blown.

By now you’re realizing, I’m sure, that we weren’t really there for the love of the game; we were there for the love of our six-year-old granddaughter who was playing in the game.

Kendall did a good job. A great job, PawPaw would say. What she might have lacked in finesse, she more than made up for in energy, an item that little whirlwind has never found to be in short supply. She was something to watch!

She did bounce the ball. She did chase the ball. She did grudgingly give the referee the ball once the whistle was blown and the ref pried the ball out of her white-knuckled hands.

She didn’t shoot much. Maybe not at all, as I recall. Everyone kept yelling at her, Shoot! But there’s a surprising amount of difference between the shooting “size” and ability of those cute little pistols. A few shot often and amazingly well. Our gal will get there, but it seemed to me that, at this point in her career, she’d have needed a ladder or a rocket-assisted basketball to get anywhere near the rim. Practice and another inch or a few will take care of that. In the meantime, what she lacks in vertical ability she more than makes up for in horizontal activity.

 But the scene that lives in my mind did not happen exactly “on” the court; it happened beside the court. Kendall was not actually “in” the game at that time, but she was “body and soul” involved in it.

We, her family, were standing at court-side when her parents started laughing and pointing down to our team’s “bench” about twenty yards down the line. Kendall was briefly “on the bench” but not on it at all. She was standing up, leaning over the line, her arm extended, and she was pointing at something or someone, and yelling at the top of her lungs. She’d morphed from frenetic player into fully-involved coach. (In reality, the family all laughingly agreed that we’d just seen her turn into her mom!)

We never did find out what coaching advice, counsel, cajoling, or warning she was so loudly offering. But watching her give it was the best part of the whole game!

Was it good advice? I’d bet it was. But I don’t have a clue.  The only thing I know for sure is that watching that little girl was a delight. Why? Because we think she is a delight. More specifically, because, at this point, “delight” becomes a verb. PawPaw, and all of her family, delight in her. She and all of her companion ants have a lot to learn about playing basketball. That will come.

What I hope she, and each of them, already feels is that they are loved, just as much when they miss the goal as when they hit it. And, though we love watching them learn and grow, we delight in them always.

Come to think of it, as hard as it sometimes may be to believe, that is exactly what our Father wants each of his children to know. He loves watching us grow and learn. He wants better for us even than what we want for ourselves. But he delights in us always.

That’s a truth, and a word, worth pondering. Really. Stop and think about it. Then, in a few minutes or a few days, stop and think about it some more.

 Always. It’s still true. Even if you’ve just realized that you recently ran the wrong way on the court and shot at the wrong goal. Your Father delights in you. Even if what you’ve just done is far from delightful. 

Ah, watching that little girl “coach.” A delight, for sure.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Columnist

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