Rector's Ramblings - September 28, 2023
Sunday was a great stroll down memory lane. And by lane, I mean bowling lane. The youth group went bowling, and I got to join them. I guess I've bowled a couple of times in the last decade, but not many. This time on the lanes was the best I've felt in a long time. After an hour, I was warmed up and had a ball that was a relatively good fit for my hand. In the last twenty or so minutes before we had to pack up and leave, I was able to find the pocket several times for those explosive strikes that feel as good as a perfect approach shot with a 7-iron that settles feet from the cup (a comparison for those who know another sport better). The best part is that nothing hurt when I was done!
Bowling was a part of the first half of my life. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of bowling alleys. Both my parents were bowlers, although my mother was a great bowler. She was known to win tournaments before injuring her knee at work. Before I was old enough to go to school, I went to the bowling alley with her for daytime leagues. I would go with my dad to his work league one night a week. The work guys were fun and funny, even if that bowling alley was sketchier! I know I was in a kid's league/class, but I don't remember how old I was when I started. I remember my mother teaching me things that I still think of today every time I step on a lane. League bowling wasn't continuous, though; I didn't pick bowling back up until high school. I bowled in a Saturday league for a few years and an intra-mural league for my first year in college. Then I ran out of free time.
I was never a great bowler by league standards; I was more of a mediocre bowler. I think my high average of all time was the season I bowled a 185 average, but I would say 170 was more typical. My highest game was over 270, but I can't remember the last digit. I only played in one tournament for my local alley's teen travel team as a substitute, although I ended up being the day's hero despite not having near the highest score. Instead, I simply beat my handicap average by 20 pins that day, which put us over the top. Two of my closest friends in high school and I would go bowling after school was out when there were specials at the local alleys. And yes, I owned my own bowling balls, plural. I used to throw either a 15 or a 16-pound ball with fingertip grips, but I can't do that anymore. I hurt my elbow a few years ago; on Sunday, I found the 10 and 12-pounders to be the most comfortable.
The interesting thing is how infrequently I think about bowling, considering it was a regular part of my life for so long. Part of the explanation for that was getting out of the habit. Part of it is the physical changes that have taken place in my body, too. I always had a little trouble with my wrist and even with one knee, even as a teenager. Tennis elbow left me unable to do it for several years. And, of course, life got busy. In college, I was a full-time student and had a full-time job, which didn't leave much time for much of anything (although I had just enough time to meet and convince Donna to marry me!).
As I thought about bowling this Sunday, I thought of it fondly, with good memories. I don't miss it, per se, and I don't feel any sadness that it's not still a regular part of my life, but it was nice to recapture just a little bit of the fun and joy of watching the ball go where I intended to send it. It was also nice that counting boards left or right from my starting position was still working to pick up spares. Honestly, there was a bit of frustration, too. Knowing what I used to be able to do, missing spares most frames was disappointing. As I disclosed in my Quiet Communion reflection at Sunday night's service, I have some work to do to overcome my self-competitiveness. I guess I should count this realization as spiritual development work!
Life is hard, especially if we can't adapt as we change and the world changes around us. Different chapters of life mean different abilities and outcomes, yet also opportunities in each one. True, there will likely be grief in the process sometimes, depending on the situation, but there is a need to let go of what was and embrace what is becoming. Every chapter does bring new opportunities and things to celebrate. Being able to note them and to give thanks to God for them can go a long way. We all know the scripture, "for everything, there is a season", and it's true. Life is seasons. And God can make all things new, even us. I don't know that I'll ever have a bowling season again, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit looking up what bowling balls are going for these days.
Lord, you know better than I know myself, that I am growing older and one day will be old.
keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every
occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it
seems a pity not to use it all; but you know, lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details, give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains, they are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming
sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others pains,
but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for growing humility and a lessening cocksureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson
that occasionally I may be mistaken.
keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint, some of them are so hard to live with,
but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good
things in unexpected places and talent in unexpected people, and give me o Lord the grace to
tell them so. Amen.
Anonymous – 17th century. Found in an old English Church
Photo Credit: Bowling ball via Dreamstime.com subscription