The Zamboni Rider

Between periods of an ice hockey game, two Zambonis come out on the ice to smooth things out for the players. In addition to the seat on the Zamboni for the driver, there is another seat, for an enthusiastic fan to ride along. Usually, children get the honor of sitting in this seat. They may have just won a contest and had been named the number one fan. Basking in the glow of their win, they wave to the crowd, as if they had just been crowned king or queen of the land. In those few laps around the ice, they get to imagine they own the world – high atop the massive Zamboni, spotlight blasting their royalty to the subjects in the stands.

Last night, I was witness to something a bit different. In addition to the little guy who appeared on Zamboni #1 was a big guy on Zamboni #2. The big guy looked like he was probably in his late fifties, with gray hair, receding quite a bit, and an enormous handlebar moustache to match. He was decked out in the home team’s colors, and a smile that beamed brighter than I have seen in a long time. As his Zamboni circled the ice, his smile became wider and broader and he began the king’s wave. Actually, it was more like that of a player whose team had just won the end-of-the-season championship, riding down the hometown streets in a celebratory parade, waving to his adoring fans. It was an honor to witness this man’s childlike wonder as he rode that Zamboni around and around the ice – a fanatic in every sense of the word. There was no adult stress on his face. There was no grown-up worry in his countenance. There was only joy.

For about ten minutes, this big guy was given the priceless gift of being a child. All he had to do to enjoy it was accept it – and he certainly did. The question I asked myself as I watched him circling the ice was this: When I am given the opportunity to be as a child – even for just a few moments – do I take it? Do I accept the gift with grace and carelessly skip through the streets as I did when I was a child? Or, do I let the moment pass by for fear of looking silly or stupid? As that darling man gave his last wave to the crowd last night, I thanked God for the lightness of his spirit, and what it showed me about myself.

Today I pray God, to be like a child when the opportunity arises – to be carefree and joyous as You made me to be.

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