The four months since I last posted to this blog have been tumultuous, excruciatingly painful, and thankfully, punctuated by unexpected blessings. On this first day of a new year, I am ready to start writing again. There are still some stories to tell about Oxford, and various other adventures and misadventures. But today, at the beginning of a new year, a metaphor.
Loosen the grip on the racket.
During the last few months, for the first time in my ten year tennis adventure, I have been plagued by injuries. I had to take a seven week hiatus from playing, which was awful. Because I hate all other forms of exercise.
On my first day back on the courts, still nursing the remnants of a bruised rib, tennis elbow, and sore knee, I was hitting just about every shot out of the court . . . ground strokes, volleys, chips, lobs, ugh! “What’s wrong?” I whined to my coach. He replied with words I had heard before. But for some reason this time I heard them more clearly. “Loosen your grip on your racket,” he said. “The tension in your grip is transferring to the ball and launching it into orbit.” He went on to explain how a softer touch is far more capable of producing controlled power — a formidable weapon.
So I finally relaxed my hold on the racket. I also dropped my shoulders . . . and jaw. My knuckles went from white to pink. And with a softer and, hence, more precise touch, almost every shot off my racket was better. Way better. Wow.
A metaphor for life? Perhaps so. I spent the worst hours of my 64 years one night last March. Never mind the details. Except to say that I was lying on the floor in a beautiful, but empty room, in my beautiful, but empty home. I screamed at the ceiling as I contemplated the impending loss of my marriage, my life as I knew it, and my family as we knew it. I was consumed with rage. And grief. And fear. And the pain of rejection. I was near despair. I’m not sure how long I marinated in my misery, but in an effort to ward off sheer panic, I picked up the daily devotional book that I had been neglecting and turned to the entry for that day: March 24. This is what it said:
This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control . . . As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possessions into My care. You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes . . . and as you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand. Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.
Loosen the grip. Let go. Of the rage. The fear. And the grief. This will not happen overnight. I’m still reeling and deeply wounded. But it will happen. For me, and for countless others, known and unknown, who suffer in body, mind, and/or spirit. I pray that we can loosen our grips. Let go. And find the controlled power that will keep our shots in the court. And peace in our hearts.
Happy New Year.