You’ve been there even if you’ve
never been there. You know well
its perfectly manicured
lawns and spacious new homes,
each one slightly different
in keeping with the neighbor-
hood theme. You know the friendly
black man at the gate who smiles
safely as he waves you through.
You recognize the sprinklers,
the golfers, and the always
perfect climate. Your smirk does
not go unnoticed. What you
do not know is that if a
stone could gather its ripples,
tuck each scattered drop of wat-
er neatly back in its place,
and catch that first wind home to
the palm of a young boy’s hand,
it would. We all would kiss the
butts and suck back the ash of
each last cigarette through flared
nostrils, letting them grow out
our lips like stop motion sky-
scrapers, just to bring back light
to the darkest regions of
our x-rayed lungs. We all want
to be born again. Not saved
in a Motel 8 reading
a Gideon Bible born
again but born again to
run bases, kiss girls, grow up,
take stands, hold our wife’s hand, play
with our children before they
leave. The truth is we buy what
what we can to replace what
we can’t. This is as close as
we ever get to those tall
time-locked walls guarded by an
angel’s sword of flame. You’ve been
there even though you’ve never
been there: that lost garden of
memory, myth, and dream where,
beneath the Tree of Life, the
righteous lie naked on
the dewy grass, giggling as
the cool night air tickles their
new bodies, where they feast on
sweet bread from starry heaven.
This game is a favorite that can be used with almost any group size and a rubber ball! BTW, get yourself a nice rubber kick ball! They cost what? A dollar? And you’re still using that beat up half flat kickball that has been in your church’s closet since the first Bush administration! C’mon man, loosen the purse strings a little!
The game mechanic is simple. The group forms a circle. In the center of the circle is the “body guard” and the “target”. [NOTE: at my last church I made the mistake of referring to the “target” as the “president” and from then on my Jr. High Boys referred to the game as “J.F.K”! Wrong Costner movie! If you want to keep the conversation at you recreation time from teetering between the distasteful and the treasonous, it’s best to refer to the person in the middle as the “target”.] Everyone else in the circle are the assassins. The object is pretty simple. The assassins are trying to hit the target with the ball. The assassins in the circle pass the ball to each other until someone has a clear shot. The body guard meanwhile is protecting the target by deflecting the ball with his body. If they pick up or catch the ball they can throw it to someone else in the circle. My group considers it bad form to hurl the ball way outside the circle but your group will have to determine its own circle game etiquette. Here’s the tricky part: once the target is hit, everyone moves up a notch. The target returns to the circle, the body guard becomes the target, and the person who hit the target becomes the new body guard. You can stop the game to engage in a peaceful transition of power but my group prefers the messiness of a South American coup. For us, as soon as the target is hit, the body guard becomes the new target so the one that lands the blow has to jump into the circle and protect their fragile new arrangement!
If you have a lot of power throwers who like to aim for the kidneys in your group, you may consider a two handed rule where the ball must be thrown with both hands. I find it prevents the chaos of everyone breaking the circle to run for a stray ball to say that if the ball leaves the circle to your left, you have a right to it. Assassins also should hold the shape and not enter the circle. If ball hogging is a problem, give each player ten seconds to shoot or pass.
Whitney Huston Tribute Edition. We all honor the passing of musical legends in our own way. Might I suggest this spin on the classic? Show your group the original Bodyguard trailer. Then play by the rules above except the bodyguard will be referred to as Kevin and the target will be referred to as Whitney. Also in the background play, “I Will Always Love You”. In a continuous loop. This will give your game a certain sensitivity and raw emotional power it was lacking before.
However you choose to play this game, I’m sure it will be a crowd pleaser. If only for that special moment when the big kid everyone refers to as Sasquatch becomes the target and the short sixth grade boy nicknamed “oompa loompa” becomes his new bodyguard. Hilarity is guaranteed to ensue!
Does YOUR group have a favorite circle game?