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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Chapter 5: Thinking at Odds

            Lacing her shoes for Thursday night’s Mixed Doubles Night, Jasmine let out a sigh, certain that Davie would miss the night.  The elders could ex-communicate her only from church, not a private club, but what about Davie?  Could they order him away from a club none of them attends?  Or even from just Mixed Doubles Night?  
            She wondered whether the elders were made aware of the connection she and Davie have at Glendale.  If so, it wasn’t from Jasmine, who had never been given the chance to share her story.  But what might Davie have said?  And what did the elders tell him and order of him?  
            Glendale Racquet Club was Davie’s escape.  Na├»ve people think pastors have it easy.  They’re working in a Christian environment, serving Christians, and reporting to Christians. What, they ask, could be sweeter than that?  Jasmine knew better.  Just two weeks ago, during a water break between sets, Davie asked, “What would I do without you guys?” then he smiled at Jasmine, adding, “and gals!”  Just as he began the next line, “I’d –,“ the group finished it with him: “go bonkers!”  They’d heard him say it plenty of times before.  Sweating out a fast-paced match of tennis with plenty of overhead slams was Davie’s way of letting out his steam, releasing his stress, and keeping him sane, so he could return to work the next day and be the loving, caring, thoughtful, and patient pastor the church needed him to be.  Could the elders foresee the impact on their church if they stripped him of his outlet and let him actually “go bonkers”?
            Jasmine formally met Davie the day Pres. Obama announced he’d just had Osama bin Laden assassinated.  Gabbi had been prodding Jasmine to join Mixed Doubles Night, which needed more women, and she finally did that night.  Among the regulars, Jasmine spotted one she recognized, but she doubted but he would recognize her.  Not so.  When she introduced herself, Davie asked, “You attend Quail Canyon, don’t you?”  Jasmine nodded, and for that, the group gave the newbie to Davie as his partner for the night.  Neither had seen the other play.  Jasmine took a breath.  What if she didn’t know where to position herself, or which shots to take and which to surrender, or when to race to the net and when to protect back court?  New partners, even strong ones, usually have to lose a few games before they can gel enough to win.  And what if she didn’t play up to his standards?  To her relief, her worries were unfounded.  From the start, the two knew exactly where to be, what to poach at the net, how to support each other, and how to set one another up for the winning shot. 
            That first set was close.  Jamine and Davie were up 6-5 against Theresa and BD, Davie’s standard Men’s Doubles partner.  But they were receiving serve, and no one had yet broken serve, so they expected to go into a tie-breaker.  Unless Davie and Jasmine could break serve, right here, right now, at ad-out, set point.  BD served to Davie, who returned it back court to Theresa’s backhand, fast with heavy top-spin, then Davie rushed the net.  Theresa sent it down the line to Jasmine, who pulled BD over with a tight cross-court shot to the front alley.  BD raced forward, opening center court.  But Davie and Jasmine’s center left was also open. BD seized the window, bypassed Davie at the net, and sent his shot to the ad court’s center back line.  Jasmine raced back and to the left and made it in time for her two handed backhand to send a straight low one, passing BD, to the center deuce court back line.  Davie, at the net, ran center, seeming to switch court sides.  Theresa, seeing Davie move right, hit a drop shot short to the ad court.  But Davie had tricked her and side stepped back to the ad side just in time to volley a winner, a short fast one to the alley in the ad court.
            Exhilarated, Jasmine decided to finish off the night with the Mixed Doubles Night tradition: drinks at the Alley.  Glendale’s own sports bar, The Alley, was all prepped for the players with tables combined to form an extra long one, seating 16.  The full group went that night and Jasmine sat between Gabbi and Mindy and across from Gentry, who sat next to BD, who sat next to Davie.  When the group had ordered their drinks and it was time to toast, Steve made it easy: “To a great night of tennis and to the death of America’s Number One Most Wanted Terrorist.”  As they toasted, Jasmine noticed she and Davie were the only two of the sixteen who toasted with a pop, not a beer.  Thankfully, she appeared to be the only one who noticed, as no one seemed to pay any mind to one another’s drink orders. 
After toasting, Gentry asked Davie, “So is murder okay as long as it’s to a terrorist?” Davie smiled and teased, “Better than if it’s to a non-terrorist, right?”  After a moment, Davie shook his head and admitted, “I really don’t have an answer about what to do with a man like Osama bin Laden.  Other than stay away from him!”  “And hope he stays away from you!” BD added, to everyone’s laughter.
Theresa looked serious.  “What about criminals in our own country, really bad ones – murderers and serial rapists – do you think we should put them to death?"  “I oppose capital punishment,” Davie replied.  Jasmine looked up, interested.   “A lot of Christians cite ‘an eye for an eye’ to support their favor of it,” Theresa said.  Davie nodded, “To them, I cite the Sixth Command, ‘Do not kill,’ and the higher law of Jesus to pray for our persecutors.”  Jasmine nodded, “Shouldn’t ‘pro-life’ mean ‘anti-death’?”  Davie smiled at Jasmine.  “I like how you think.”
Trying to hold back her blush, Jasmine mused that she also likes how Davie thinks.  Growing up in an evangelical church in Colorado Springs, Jasmine hadn’t found too many within her own Christian community who do.  Her own family found her to be an odd duck.  Despite her insistence that her politics were informed by Jesus’ compassion for the poor, the sick, and the oppressed, and despite her endless citations of Jesus’ teachings like the beatitudes and the separation of the sheep and goats, her family continued to berate her for what they called “thinking at odds.”  She had never asked them what they meant by that, but she was certain that whatever it meant, it wasn’t true.  And now, she had just found another Christian who, at least in one way, thinks like her.  Together, perhaps the two of them could be “thinking at evens.”  Most stunning, he was on the pastoral staff at her own church.
At home, Jasmine usually kept her politics to herself.  Her husband, a loyal Republican, didn’t know Jasmine votes Democrat more than she votes with him.  She considers her marriage like her town: at odds, with closet progressives.  Those who have never been to Colorado Springs might think it’s a cozy little mostly white homogenous town.  It is mostly white, but it has its share of Hispanics, of which Gabbi is one-half, and African Americans, like BD.  Jasmine would love to see her hometown more diversified, but she wouldn’t call it homogenous.  Not with two military bases and the Air Force Academy, headquarters to numerous Christian groups, a smattering of hippies and environmentalists, and all the techies and average folks that make up the town.  No, Jasmine smiled, this city that’s red turning purple in a state that’s purple turning blue is surely less “homogenous” than it is “thinking at odds.”  Maybe she’s right where she belongs!
And, maybe, she also found herself right where she belongs at Glendale’s Mixed Doubles Night.  Driving home that night, she wondered about her evening’s tennis partner who was also her own church’s youth pastor.  Could he also be a closet progressive?
© 2018 by karina.  All rights reserved.  Please use only with permission from the author.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Inner discoveries whisper

Life on Earth is a remarkable interplay
between outer experiences and inner discoveries.
The purpose of life is for the inner discoveries
for which the outer experiences are merely catalysts.
~ whisper of mystery, 8/19/18
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