A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Rare Hockey Civility

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Sometimes, your parents go to a tropical island
and all you get is a lousy T-shirt.
Sometimes, I go to a hockey arena
and I only get a hockey game.
Let me explain.....
There is no other sport like hockey
in that fans go to games expecting to see fights.
(Okay, maybe fans go to boxing matches or ultimate fights to see fights as well)
Fights at hockey games
are part of the experience.
That's not true in baseball, nor basketball.
or in a rough sport such as football,
where fights lead to ejections from games.
If you are not a hockey fan,
it might be difficult to understand.
When one is on the outside of a culture looking in,
some things just seem strange.......
Eskimos rubbing noses
camel wrestling matches in Turkey
(I did not make that up)
Fights at hockey games
are just as much of the game
as tossing a hat onto the rink after a hat trick
(for those in the dark about hat tricks, go directly to Wikopedia......)
or blowing on a cheap plastic horn when a goal is scored.
I look forward to going to hockey games
in the winter.
It's a fast paced sport
played in a relatively small space,
which leads to tempers flaring and fists flying.
Imagine my excitement
when I realized that for the first time in my proud hockey history,
I was going to have a first row seat.
For the uninformed,
that made me a Plexorite.
A Plexorite is one who gets to see the action at ice level,
who gets to pound fists on the plexiglass,
and who gets to yell at players
whose faces are being smashed up against the plexiglass.
It is a privilege that is not to be taken lightly.
With fists clenched,
I was ready to for the first scrum to occur inches in front of me.
I was ready to cheer on the fighters as they battled on the other side of the plexiglass.
But then the strangest thing happened......
The hockey game got nice.
Period one ended.
No fights,
not even a scuffle.
I think I heard a player say excuse me
as he bumped into an opposing player.
I'm sure the zamboni driver was even whistling
"zippity doo dah"
as he drove around the ice during the break.
I made a mad dash for nachos during the intermission.
The nacho line is always long and filled with
hungry, carb-starved crazies.
Not this evening.
The line was short
and filled with fans exchanging pleasantries.
The cashier even smiled at me.
That's when I knew I had entered the hockey twighlight zone....
I got back to my seat in Plexorville
just in time to get ready to pound the glass.
The home team was down a goal
and the announcer aimed to rev up the crowd.
Okay, I was convinced that the 2nd period was going
to be some serious in-your-face hockey.
Not so much.
The arena remained unusually quiet.
Fans behind me were talking about what flowers they were going to plant in the spring.
One woman was knitting.
Now I have nothing against knitting.....
it's just not the type of activity usually seen in Plexorville.
I waited......
waited for the first scrum in front of me,
waited for the first fisticuffs,
waited for the first faced flattened up against the plexiglass.
Absolutely nothing.
all I got was skaters skating by,
enjoying a nice cardio workout.
There weren't even many penalties called
for players to enter the "time-out" chair.

I had come to see a hardcore hockey game
and instead had been transported to Niceville.
Second intermission
The dirigible was circulating the arena dropping cash coupons onto the crowd.
This usually incites a riot as people scramble
for a piece of falling paper that will give them a free small fountain soda
at a local convenience store.
Not this evening.
Children were seen surrendering coupons to wheelchair bound fans.
One polite fan instead of snatching the coupon out of the air,
looked at a nearby fan and said, "after you."
In the bizarro world that I had entered,
the Stepford Wives had invaded a hockey game.
Third period.
The refs call several questionable penalties against the home team.
Okay, I thought, now we are going to see some hockey angst.
Never happened.
The visiting team scored to go up by two.
Normally diehard fans started to file out of the arena.
As the seconds ticked off the clock,
I hoped for one fight,
one bloodied nose.,
one black eye.
What did I get instead.........
a hug,
A hug from Coco the mascot.
Nothing says hockey mania
like a furry bear offering a warm embrace.
Sometimes you don't get what you are expecting.....
A surprise rain shower on your outdoor event.
A new job that turns out to be quite different than you had hoped.
A relationship that doesn't develop into what you expected.
A situation where you spend time with those you don't particularly like.
We don't always get what we hope for.
It's called life.
And life should not be equated with God.
Christians are no more guaranteed a rosy path in life
than non-believers.
In fact, the more faithful the believer,
the Bible tells us to expect to be rejected,
to receive harsh criticism,
and to encounter difficulties.
Sometimes you expect a sunny day,
and you get rained on.
I expected a rough tough hockey game
and instead was given an exercise in etiquette.
But, I was still given a night out
with a great friend.
No matter what our expectations,
we are still given each day to savor.
There is something of value in each experience.
There is something to be learned in each challenge.
It has been said,
when you are given lemons, make lemonade.
I say,
just hit the concession stand.
On a night like I had,
you'll probably get a free glass with your purchase of nachos.
Here's to making the most of each day.
I'll just save my fist pounding for another day......
That you may be children of your Father who is in heaven;
for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and unjust.
Matthew 5:45

No comments: