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“Man, better wash your dishes with that.”
“See what’s happenin’ here?”
“No, not really…” But I loved it, so it didn’t matter.
Jersey and P. played dominoes across from each other after the chili people left. I was getting to know two friends-old friends to them, new friends with me.
Dominoes is a very interesting sport. I watched and watched and listened and listened and either I am an idiot (which I am) or they are not the best educators (which they aren’t), but the more I watched, the more I was enamored with the mystery behind the seemingly shifting and impossible rules of dominoes. Sometimes they seemed so simple, and other times: near-magical.
They held several white-dotted black chips close to them, blank side facing their opponent, and dotted side facing their chest. They placed their “bones” on the concrete ledge we sat on in train formation, with dot numbers matching to dot numbers.
“Ok, so right now you count up the ends. You see, you got 4, 4, and there’s 6, and two 5s. Bone yard is near empty, so I’m finna empty him.”
I looked on in awe of these two mystics trash talking and playing a simple simple game, to epic epic proportions. It was so intense. I couldn’t keep up with the game or the trash talk, but something about their acceptance, and willingness to teach me, let alone be with me, kept me intrigued in their puzzling black and white riddle game
Tim came over to me and asked if they were teaching me dominoes. He told me that his grandma and her friends in Texas loved dominoes and played intense games with each other.
I walked away from that experienced totally encouraged and not wanting to leave at all. I could have watched them play for hours. I mean I had a bag of trail mix, “Man, here’s the goal of dominoes,” a comfortable seat, “you gotta,” two hilarious older guys, “get your bones,” and a night filled with “and” fresh air. I would love to finish that quote off if I knew the rest of what he said. But I don’t. I forgot. Shame really. But I remember both of them, their personalities, their laughs, their styles; them.
I wanted to tell that full story, with every word they told me. One guy asked how old I was. “20″, I said. He chuckled and told me he was 51, then said, “Just keep breathin’ in, and breathin’ out and you’ll get here too. You didn’t have nuthin’ more to do with it when you were born and you won’t have nuthin’ more to do with it when you get here neither.” I really liked that. I can’t capture that conversation any more than I can capture them, probably less that talk than them even.
On the car ride back I got to know one of the other CB regulars better. I loved it. We opened up to some things we have been struggling with and dealing with emotionally and spiritually lately. It showed me how much better it is to engage than withdraw, and to expose your “bones” to the people with you, than to draw the dots that pattern our lives close to us, shielding our numbers, and flaunting blank space. People aren’t always our enemies. And often they can help us place our best pieces at the right spots, and affirm us into knowing that we aren’t the only ones stuck with a crappy domino.
I don’t mean to sound cliche, but I have been learning a lot about friendship, openness, and judgmentalism. And the importance of friendship within CB is bar none, we are a community of friends that disregards all our discrepancies, hypocrisies, and offensiveness, so that we can show are true “bones” to one in another, in hopes and faith that Christ will unite us past our differences, difficulties, and challenges, to bring us into a deeper, fuller, and greater revelation of grace, God, and each other. I want to be more like those two men, who would patiently entertain and encourage me into the mysteries of dominoes, for the sheer joy of the game, each other, and me. Me! I’m annoying! But they kept encouraging and enjoying me. What is this?
I want to expose my bones, show people what I would otherwise try to hide, try to build with people instead of against them, bring them into the joys of my community and teach them the beautiful mysteries of the gospel that unites my friendships, and rejoice over them as a person uniquely and beautifully made to fit perfectly into the gospel culture of openness, acceptance, and rejoicing.
Thank you all for coming with to the City, and I praise God for the friendships He has orchestrated to constantly shape and define me and CB into the beautifully patterned domino train that we are and that we continue to grow into being.