my life is a constant struggle between balancing and rebalancing.
relationships, jobs, education, ministry.
balance brings with it peace, thus why our (or maybe just my) balance is so important. it feels good to have a solid foundation underneath your feet. especially where you are juggling a few too many balls.
one of the places i feel most balanced is at st andrews church on sunday evenings. getting to share a meal and socialize with a lot of my poor and/or homeless friends is a gift that continues to keep giving me back way more than i put in.
pizza is always a guaranteed component of the meal. each plate comes with a slice of pizza, then your option of a small plastic bag full of small slices. this past sunday, the church that was hosting made a delicious (and from what i could tell nutritious) meal for the community.
kat and walked into the gym a few moments after the 5pm public prayer and grace. randy spotted us his way.
‘lucas!’ randy shouted.
i turned to see randy smiling, his right hand upon his now shaved head, rubbing the hairless surface.
‘i shaved my head just like you.’
randy is one of our original members of street soccer. he competes in several special olympics events and does quite well considering he’s pushing 60. he doesn’t move the fastest on the soccer pitch nor does he have the strongest kick, but he works hard and celebrates like no one else. even a bad case of asthma can’t keep him away from playing.
‘my stomach still isn’t feeling well,’ randy said to me. ‘the doctors at the emergency room told me to take it easy.’
randy can’t play but stays around to watch and cheer on his teammates.
we had another big turnout of players. international students have been coming more steadily, i guess seeing us as a place where they can play the game they love and integrate into canadian society. our players have embraced and welcomed them into our little sports community.
i love how we do that.
i end up playing with sim, adele and holly on my team.
sim and adele go to school together at one of the local high schools. both have immigrated here with their parents from countries in the middle east and north africa. both have experienced difficulties fitting in here in halifax. can’t tell if it has to do with bullying or just a difference in cultures.
it’s no fun when you don’t fit in.
but not at street soccer. they fit in perfectly here.
sim is a talented, young soccer player whose only weakness is that he is so skinny that he gets easily bumped off the ball by larger players. he took a hard spill this past sunday, knocking his elbow hard off the pitch. two minutes later he was scoring goals for us again.
what adele lacks in soccer skills he makes up in sheer effort, though his skills have begun to develop considerably in the past while. adele will often shout ‘no!’ after the opposing team or even his own team scores a goal. it seemed quite odd at first, but after a while we noticed a pattern similar with that of tourette’s syndrome. while it often takes visiting players a bit off guard, the rest of the players have become used to the loud outbursts.
just as some of our guys are dealing with depression or schizophrenia or anxiety or adhd or bipolar or whatever else, this is just part of what adele is dealing with. street soccer is a no stigma community.
and i plan it keep it that way.
holly is one of kat’s friends who started coming out and playing with us several months ago. holly is an athlete. a former university basketball player, she holds her own on the soccer pitch quite well. she plays with a knee that needs major surgery soon and an ankle that not long ago that was one of the craziest colors of purple i’ve ever seen. she’s tough. she recently bet val she could beat him in a game of one on one basketball. not the wisest decision. valentin won himself two weeks worth of dinners. ha!
after two and half hours of soccer we are all worn out. it so happened that someone had left the heat on in the church gymnasium, which was a good explanation why everyone was drenched in sweat. after a brief team stretch we all gather our things and turn off the lights.
whatever balance issues i had walking into st andrews were no longer there when i walked back out. another week of street soccer is over. i’m so grateful that i have such an amazing, authentic and inclusive community to belong to, and one that brings a good dose of balance into my life.
i love this game.