Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Not About Hockey

I'm sure when you see a post that begins with a photo of a couple of hockey players, those of you who don't see Hockey Day In Canada as a national celebration worthy of a day off may want to skip today's blog. I'm telling you now, it's not about hockey.

Some of you may know that hockey goalies are a very superstitious lot and though in our life - religion, superstition, and luck don't really hold a lot of water - our son has a few superstitions that we've just chalked up to being part of his game. He's the first to admit he can be a little obsessive/compulsive, even as a small boy, he incorporated little rituals into his game. Now, a 15 year old and a goalie, he has a full gamut of rituals that he runs through. He'll hit his pads and posts after every whistle, every stop. He has different little routines he goes through when he stops a puck or when he lets one in. He has even admitted to talking to his posts. The past few weeks, Aidan has been playing basketball at school in addition to his time on the ice with his new team. It seems he's been tracking his stats and when I come to a basketball game, they lose. When I come to a hockey game, they win. Vice versa with his father. When Jason heads to basketball, they win. Hockey, they lose. And so, Aidan's superstitions now dictate who drives him to which sport, which I'm fine with, except for when I draw the short straw and have to take him to his late night ice times, as I did last night.

But then, this moment, in between plays, I caught a glimpse of perhaps why I was on duty. It was just a few minutes, while the refs were sorting other things out on the ice, and I watched Aidan's teammate, Ben, skate towards him and they had just a quick interaction outside the crease. I grabbed my phone and fumbled for a photo and caught it before the play resumed. 

It may look like just a photo of a couple boys yapping on the ice but to me, it's an answer to a prayer I prayed a very long time ago, and quite honestly, had forgotten about. 

When I was 16, I was going into grade 11 and met a girl who would become one of my closest, best friends. It was one of those immediate kindred spirit type things in which two very different girls just click and become inseparable. We went everywhere together for the next year and our two individual names became connected by an "and" as people referred to us as "ShellyandMargie" or "MargieandShelly". The summer following grade eleven, we were planning our last year as high school students and college and university options when we came home from a week long camping trip to find out that Margie's parents had decided to move back the family back to Saskatchewan. It wasn't a good time in my life. I felt lost without my sidekick and I remember having to be the one to break the news at our grad campout that Margie had moved away. 

I am not going to lie, I didn't handle it well. I cried for weeks as I missed my friend and we wrote letters back and forth for the entire year. I had great friendships in high school and grade 12 was an amazing year but it always had that back-of-the-mind wish that Margie had been there to share in it.  For nights on end, I would pray that Margie and I could live in the same city and continue our friendship. 

Over time, our lives took us in different directions. She moved as much as we did. One year found us an hour apart in Regina and Caronport, so we were able to get a visit in. Annual letters and Christmas cards became phone calls to parents to catch up on each others' addresses...and slowly, we lost track of where one another had ended up. When I moved back to Canada from the U.S., I called her parents as I did sporadically, to see where she was living. They gave me a Saskatchewan phone number and told me that we were in the same city!  I called her up and we discovered that if I stood out in the driveway of the apartment we were renting and looked down the street, the house at the end was hers! 
Over the past few years, it's been such a gift to have her back in my life. Now, with seven kids between us and another on the way (hers, not mine!!) ...she continues to be one of my dearest friends. 

And so, last night, I watched as her son, Ben, and my son, Aidan, chatted it up on the ice, I just had this image of God just saying, "There it is, Shell, the answer to those teary prayers you prayed back on Cameron Crescent, feeling like I wasn't listening." It was as though the roots of that young friendship from years ago had really grown into something fruitful. I can't say that I was waiting for it anymore. I felt like having Margie back in my life was the reward I had waited for. I didn't even know that there could be more to it. And isn't that just how we pray? We look for the answer we want, without anticipating how much more God is willing to do to show us how deeply He loves us.  

It may just be a photo of a couple of hockey players. To me, it's evidence.

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