I guess this is my month for getting schooled by grandkids at board games. Last week, it was “Mousetrap”…this week, “NBA Bas-Ket”.
For the uninitiated, Bas-Ket is what passed for an indoor tabletop basketball diversion back in the day, in those dim decades before the invention of PlayStation. And I’d have to say the video versions are likely an immense improvement – because in truth, the analog-mechanical adaptation tends to frustrate more than it entertains.
The basic concept: You play Bas-Ket by flicking a spring-loaded lever in an attempt to fling a ping-pong ball into a hoop. Sounds simple, right? Except the ball tends to take its dear sweet time before settling into one of the designated shot-launching positions on the court. Sure, you can put the ball “in play”…but then you might as well go get a cup of coffee, because it can take 30 or 40 seconds for the “settling” process to unfold.
Then comes your chance to “shoot.” Only 9 times out of 10, the ball rockets utterly beyond the confines of the court, the mother of all Air Balls – soaring hopelessly higher than the rim, over the backboard, and onto the floor (often exhibiting an uncanny ability to scoot under the refrigerator, or the heaviest piece of furniture in the room).
Once the ball is retrieved, the whole unwieldy process begins again. And you discover that Bas-Ket can provide many dreary hours of entertainment over the course of just 18 minutes or so.
But as it happens, we hosted a couple of quite clever youngsters this weekend – one of whom proved himself disinclined to suffer the indignities of the game’s built-in boredom. True to his sporting genes, Grandson #1 flicked the first two or three shots completely out of the Bas-Ket arena… but rather than get frustrated, he set about devising an ingenious solution.
It turns out, the box lid can be fashioned into a really handy roof for the Bas-Ket arena. And once it’s in place, the ping-pong ball tends to stay in play, no matter how hard it’s flicked. (What’s more, you can even start doing trick shots: “off the ceiling, graze the backboard, and in!”)
Now, I’m not exactly sure how long we’ve owned this board game – but it’s definitely an antique, judging by the NBA stars (Bird, Magic, Jordan) pictured on the box lid. And I have to say, it’s humbling to realize how a such simple change could have made the game a lot more entertaining through the years. Fact is, the “roof” adaptation never occurred to me.
And it makes me wonder, how many other simple truths do I overlook… because my vision has become too narrow? Saint Paul seems to have something like this in mind, when he writes to encourage the Christian community at Corinth. In today’s second reading, we hear:
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
But seeing the world exclusively through “adult” eyes isn’t always the best approach, is it? As Saint Paul goes on to suggest, maybe we need to hang on to a little wonder…embrace mystery…and give the Spirit a little extra room to operate in our lives.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.
At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.