Hockey and the Here and Now

20 Apr

It was loud. So loud. Ear-itching loud. The cheers, whoops, heavy metal music, screams, applause, a roar of a soundtrack filling the building, and increasing. A flurry of white towels, twirled in small circles with abandon, was juxtaposed against the black garb of every die-hard Kings fan.

As the tension of anticipation rose – along with the decibel level – I put my arms and my towel down for a moment and got still. I felt a vibration in my chest – so much bass. I looked at each of the men in my life – my husband of 22 years who lured me into this hockey fanaticism when we were dating, and my sons, 18 and 14, who had been attending Kings game faithfully since they were in utero. I smiled at the pure joy of hope, of expectation, of promise that was obvious in their screaming demeanors, their fists pumping the air wildly to “This Is LA.” Yes!

18,000 of us, hollering exultantly because the puck had not yet been dropped on this first home playoff game of the season. We could all celebrate this moment, the culmination of a grind-it-out fall and winter that qualified us for late April play.

I breathed it in, savoring every sound, every sight. The smell of my ice cold beer, the taste of it so perfect after my onion-laden hot dog. The cold blast of air from some unseen vent that had chilled us at every game since we began sitting in Section 218, Row 12, several years before.

This time next year, not one of us knows where we’ll be. Let’s be honest – we don’t even know IF we’ll be. Certainly we hold hope and expectation that our oldest will be away at the University of Texas-Austin navigating his way through his freshman year of college. We expect that our youngest will be moving forward through the challenge that the sophomore year of high school inevitably brings. We expect that we will all be able to successfully respond to the change in our family dynamic – that party of four becoming a party of three. That we’ll be alive, and healthy. But we don’t really know.

And that’s what makes living in the moment – one of those buzz phrases of our time – so important. It’s certainly not new. Jesus himself advised us not to worry about tomorrow for “tomorrow will worry about itself.”

He knew then that our tendency is to focus on the goal, the destination, and to worry about all the steps that lead there. And while we must do our share of planning if we are to be successful, prepared people (and not end up lost somewhere, either literally or figuratively), if we are to go to college, lose weight, remodel our homes, coordinate a fundraiser, even make a healthy, balanced dinner, we must look forward and plan.

But not at the expense of missing what’s happening right now. Today. This minute, this right now, that moment before the hockey game begins. While others shouted, “Drop the puck!” because they just wanted this game to get started, to get closer to that hoped-for outcome, I just wanted to languish in this anticipatory revelry a few more moments. Tears pushed at the edges of my eyeliner and I thanked God for these seconds, this slice of sheer joy that had risen up in the strangest of places – downtown LA in a sea of fluttering rally towels, with rabid fanatical hockey fans, and with the most precious people in my life. This is a blessing from God. This is the experience. Marinate in it. Experience it with every one of the senses. Rejoice. Be thankful. Soak it up. And I did.

If you follow hockey, you know how the rest of the night went. We got to scream hysterically in celebration of four unanswered goals – some coming so close together that we hadn’t finished cheering for the previous one– only to end up losing the game in overtime, 6-5. Oh, yes, quite the buzzkill. People will certainly talk about this game for years – how the Kings blew a four-goal lead and the San Jose Sharks were amazingly able to rally in this game after losing the previous game 4-0.

But I will never forget this night for what happened before the main event. I will always cherish, relish and reflect on that blessing of being right where I was, happy, safe, secure and profoundly thankful in experiencing the joy of hope and promise. Unlike a four-goal lead, no one can ever take that away from me.

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