Four Candles, Black Men, and Basketball in Heaven

“words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, grief, or wonder.”  – Jodi Picoult

There are words and phrases that seem to grab hold of our consciousness, entertain us, disturb us, tickle our fancy or just plain confound us.  Sometimes, the mere mention of a few otherwise neutral words can summon memories that have lived dormant in our psyche for decades.  This past week I was profoundly affected by certain words and phrases.  I realize that context combines with definition to trigger some very surprising physiological responses.   For instance the words…

“Black Men” ~  (written by Adelle, my husband’s effervescent 9-year-old cousin, as a phrase to be used during our family game of charades). 

I can’t tell you how much mental juggling took place in my mind after reading the submission Adelle proudly handed me, (the only African-American in the room).  Her aunt and I looked at the words “Black Men” and glanced at one another and carefully asked, “what is this?  Is it a book, a movie, a song?”  The budding charades pro enthusiastically replied, “it’s a movie my dad and I watched.”  “Oh…Hmmm..ok” we replied.     While I envisioned the minefield that the opposing team would have to navigate to act this one out, one of the women on our team whispered, “‘Men In Black’, is it the movie ‘Men In Black?!'”  The little one nodded, with a twinkle in her eyes, “yes that’s it!”  I laughed until I cried and then laughed some more….

“When I get to heaven, I’m going to play basketball all day!” ~ (mused my 10-year-old son)

I heard these words and immediately began to tear up without understanding why.  I knew the thought of my little guy loving something so much that he would want to do it all day in heaven was probably not enough to make this “tough momma” cry.  As Caleb continued to talk about his love for basketball, a picture began to form.  The words basketball and heaven brought back memories of my father who had passed away when Caleb was three.  My father played professional basketball and was a basketball coach after his playing career ended.  My mind jumped to Caleb, playing basketball in heaven with my dad – an image that warmed my soul.

“Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, tonight we celebrate Chanukah” (spoken by Uncle Ilan Levi – surrounded by ten surprisingly attentive children)

This past week was a very rare convergence of two special holidays and one big event.  Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapped and I had the pleasure of being in the company of my husband’s family for the extended weekend. Our assemblage of twenty-two swarmed the Thanksgiving buffet, played charades and wobbled to our perspective villas where we succumbed to food comas.  The next night, the third night of Chanukah, was kicked off by a kid initiated dance party.  (That’s what happens when you add Protestants and Agnostics to the mix).  It took a while to get the kids settled down for the lighting of the menorah, but we managed. The blessing was recited and the third candle was lit.  Uncle Ilan told the children about the miracle of the oil and the perpetual light.  My children had never celebrated Chanukah and we were all honored to be included in the celebration.  The image of Uncle Ilan and Aunt Barbie surrounded by ten young children listening to him share the story of Chanukah by the glow of candle light is one that will not be forgotten.

“Today we light the HOPE Candle” ~ (spoken by my Handsome Hubby who is Pastor of our church)

I have celebrated Advent for most of my life.  I have to admit until just recently, Advent was sort of the “previews” before the “big blockbuster”, Christmas.  This past Sunday, when my husband declared, “today we will light the Hope Candle”, something within me stirred.  When we light the Hope Candle we acknowledge that we can hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God.  Our hope is in God.  As little Selah, Caleb and Jo-Jo Jensen stood with their mom and dad to light the candle it dawned on me that families can actually light a “candle of hope” any time and any place.

May you wield your words wisely.  Remember they can be an elixir that has the power to inspire, strengthen, and comfort.  They are the raw ingredients used to create masterful memories.  May your words be harbingers of hope.

Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!

~The Ringmaster

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Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.   ~ Proverbs 18:21   The Message Version

2 thoughts on “Four Candles, Black Men, and Basketball in Heaven

  1. Lol. I was trying to figure out how I missed something so on the nose as Black Men.

    That Thanksgiving-Chanukah dinner sounds fun!

    Have a great weekend!

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