Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Basketball Coach and the Evangelist

Heading for Colorado on Thursday for the wedding of my friend, Vicki. Vicki and I became acquainted through church in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at the ripe age of 23 or 24. She coached the women's basketball team at a local high school and I ministered to Christian Student Fellowships at northeast Indiana colleges and universities with the aim of encouraging bands of young Christians on secular campuses to evangelize their non-believing peers. She is a central character of my book, 'Jesus Days, 1978-1983.'

We were an unlikely couple well suited to each other, the Basketball Coach and the Evangelist. She loved sports, I loved the arts, and we both stood firm under the umbrella of our faith. We were fellow travelers stumbling into adulthood, struggling to loosen the bonds of our evangelical backgrounds in order to breathe freely.

It seems amazing to me now that I questioned my sexuality when it must have appeared so apparent to anyone with good vision. But the evangelical church, or perhaps any religion or social structure, allows one to hide, to appear as others want to see you. And I excelled at appearances. One learns early how to choose one's life costume.

At times I'm asked if I still believe in God. Vicki does, although she doesn't practice her faith in the way that we did as the Young Evangelicals. I don't know if I do, although if I were pressed to say whether I leaned toward faith or not, I'd have to say that I tilted slightly toward God, however you might define it. Perhaps it is easier. But I know that I really don't think about God anymore, although when my father endured triple bypass surgery last winter, I said my prayers. Who were the prayers directed to? I don't know. Some times I think that prayers are like tossing pennies in a fountain. All the pennies pile on top of each other and you can no longer discern which penny is yours, but you still wish it has an effect and will prompt the fulfillment of your wish.

More than twenty-five years has passed since Vicki and I met. More than twenty-five years has elapsed since I abandoned the evangelical world in which I'd lived my entire life. Yet the circle closes and touches again this weekend when I share in the wedding of Vicki and her new, husband, Ernie. I'm very happy for them and wish them best for the coming years.