|When I played basketball my freshman year of high school our coach gave us some great advice about taking free throws.
He had us all develop a free throw shooting routine that we would do before taking the shot. You could take a couple of dribbles, pat the ball twice before shooting. You could rotate the ball backwards and bounce it back to yourself before taking a shot.
Mine was five little dribbles, one spin on the palm of my hand and then take the shot.
The thinking behind it was sound.
When you play high school basketball every hoop is 10 feet tall and you're shooting from 15 feet away. The differences in gyms you play in, however, are completely unique. Some have huge banners hanging behind the hoop, some have bleachers, some have no room at all.
The point of the routine is to trigger your muscle memory so that you can block out the differences and focus on the similarities. Even today, if you had me shoot a free throw I'd probably start the little routine out of habit.
There's something so helpful and calming about routines that remind us that things are the same even when they feel very different. At there best these kinds of tricks bring us back to the present moment and remind us that so much is the same even when it feels all different. The presence of God is with us even when it seems like everything else is turned on its head.
At their worst, our routines try to recapture something that doesn't exist anymore. We exit the present moment and retreat into the comfort of old patterns that allow us to avoid the world around us. God takes a back seat and our memories take the front seat.
This week we'll be looking at Peter going back to fishing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. What's present in Peter's return to the profession he knew after everything should have changed for him.