There’s a tale behind many a battered hockey puck. Recovered from the net after a milestone goal perhaps, or deflected into the outstretched hands of a delighted fan caught, hopefully, without injury.
Since without a deadline nothing would get done, I had to do some serious clearing before the kids arrived home this Christmas. While sorting and pitching some of my mother’s possessions two years after her demise, I came across The Puck she had stashed away.
The story behind it is one of unspoken guilt and forgiveness.
Like many young Canadians I spent countless hours on our backyard rink. I was, you understand, on track to assume Dave Keon’s number 14 sweater and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But my wrist shot needed some work. As a training technique, I would tip over an old wooden table on the ice to serve as both goal and goalie and try to wrist a shot as high as I could.
It was late afternoon. I was diligently practicing when perhaps my best and highest wrist shot to that point in my life nicked the top of the table, soared and shattered the kitchen window.
Inside the kitchen my mother was getting ready to entertain the Anglican Church Women that night. Silently we both felt the gravity of the situation. She knew it was an accident and, I believe, intuitively knew the depth of my remorse without having to drive home the point of what had just happened with a scolding.
In short order the shards of glass were cleared and a piece of cardboard was cut and inserted in the window against the elements.
I’m not sure what was discussed that night as the ladies met. My mother likely regaled them with the tale of the hockey puck to explain the cardboard but doing it with more delight than distain for me, good humour being her hallmark.
As I said, recovering that puck a couple of weeks ago was a reminder of the guilt and pardon exchanged without words for what might be nothing more than a fluke. Which brings me to the approaching end of the year.
Life does flow in reverse. Life goes on. I can’t raise my kids again, I can’t re-pastor my first church, there’s no chance for another chance. So we resolve at this time of year to change future behaviour. Drop old habits and pick up new ones.
But if the New Year is to be new for us, it calls for stiff resolution to not only chart a new course but also to scrape the corrosive bitterness of past mistakes and misdeeds by a forgiving and forgetting steeped in the notion that sometimes things happen. No malice or ill-intent. Things happen. That’s it.
The incident which may have devastated you at the time was perhaps no more than a fluke of nature or an errant hockey puck from the stick of someone just trying to take a better shot.
Bob Ripley is a syndicated columnist and pastor in London, Ont.