I recall a certain player that I played with years ago who we named “Zamboni”. The reason we did of course, was that he was constantly on the ice, either diving for a puck or getting hit. It seemed like every few second he was flat on his stomach or back, sliding into the opposition, into the corner, into anything! We joked that with Mark on our team we didn’t need the Zamboni to clean the ice between periods, he did the job every shift he played!
Hockey is a lot like life: as the clock ticks by, crazy stuff happens. Notice that at the beginning of the game how smooth the ice appears. Players seem to skate much easier, the puck slides flat, and the game is up-tempo and exciting. High skill players find it much easier to play when the ice is perfect. As the period progresses, the stuff of the game happens. A couple guys get into a tussle, and someone leaks a bit of blood on the ice. Someone else gets high-sticked, and more blood hits the ice. After trying to scrape over the evidence, the ice no longer looks nearly as good as it did at first. Snow begins to appear by the players benches, along the boards and at the sides of the nets, making the puck slow down, and at times bounce. The play generally gets more scrambly as the period wears on. Occasionally as players makes sharp turns and cuts, they carve ruts in the ice that need a linesman’s attention. Out comes a water bottle, together with some excess snow to fill in the rut. This concoction is flattened out by a puck, in an attempt to smooth over the potentially dangerous rut. By the tine the period is over, the players are glad to head to their dressing rooms, not only to take a rest but to have the Zamboni clean and flood the ice.
Our lives are remarkably similar; with time comes the odd tussle, things aren’t nearly as smooth as they once were. Ruts appear along our days where once there were none. Life is not nearly as smooth as we had planned, and sometimes it is downwright scrambly. We are trying hard, but relationships have gone south, and we can’t seem to fix them. The ice surface in our life is scarred, filled with ruts and evidence of serious struggles….. and that is where as a chaplain, I turn to Christ my Saviour, the Zamboni man.