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“Whoa! Will you look at that! Wow!” Whistles and muffled chatter filled the kids on our court, their boots sliding upon the packed snow—five inches of it—that had fallen during the night. With ruddy cheeks exposed to biting winds, they looked like newly minted explorers wearing snow gear of reds, pinks, and blacks. Some rubbed mittened fists in their eyes, unaccustomed to the sun’s brilliance. Others lugged shovels. Still another sat in the snow and circled handfuls around him, his mouth forming a perfect O.

It wasn’t long before a plan formed. The tallest boy pulled a red wagon and gathered the others around him, their capped heads huddled, until smiles and more exclamations resounded up and down the court. More shovels appeared. The work began. Instead of banking snow from driveways and sidewalks along the curb, it was dumped into the wagon; then pulled to the entrance of the court and emptied into a large yellow bucket. More hands hefted buckets of snow until turrets of a fort appeared. Hours passed.

Still their plan was not fully actualized—there would be another fort built at the end of the cul-de-sac. Their gusto only mounted.

As I marveled at the kids’ industry, I wondered if their imaginations perceived their forts as safe places from which to thwart persons having no business on our court.

Or on a deeper level, whether they intuited such places with their God as,“… fortress, … stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)



Thump! Thump! Thump! — Thump! Thump! — The basketball ricochets off the backboard resounding like scattershot onto the pavement. Still more thumping intrudes into the evening’s quiet. The basketball skitters around the rim, then swishes the net. The girl scrambles for the ball, hugs it with small hands as a smile whispers her thin lips; but not for long as she continues working the ball on the pavement, eyeing the basket overhead. Again, flatfooted, she shoots, totally engaged in the game, a game she plays with herself. Hours pass.

But this girl is special. Her flat wide face, her slanted eyes, her short neck suggest Down’s syndrome. Yet for several years, she has showed up each evening with her basketball and entered the challenge of the moment.

To the outsider, she appears impaired. Yet her singleness of focus hones her concentration upon the bouncing ball, careening off in angles, rolling out into the street, at times, under parked cars. She retrieves the ball for still another shot, her ponytail flying behind her. Indeed, she plays well. She needs no company.

A simple soul lives among us, precious in God’s sight. As we watch, we learn.

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