Every December, I search for early freezing on sheltered lake bays or roadside ponds before the snow keeps me away. Then in March and early April, rain often provides arena-like floods for temperatures ready to make their last winter plunge.
My skates and stick are always with me, my heart always ready, because out there with Him I Live, transformed. He lives in me, playing, moving with every stride, inspiring every blade movement and every dangle.
One opportunity came as I traveled home north of Madoc, Ontario from my youngest daughter’s volleyball tournament in March 2018. Another came in December, 2019 on Papineau Lake. The poem below is the result of those gifts.
Glass ice sprawls across the bay
calling me to come and play.
Fingers finish lacing at minus nine,
I rise in the silent air, razor-steel on my feet,
every cell now craving to fly on this sheet.
As the light breeze tickles the pines,
I gaze at their playful movements,
with hand under my chin leaning on my stick I pray,
“O Lord, the Psalmist played for you on his harp,
Let me play a song for you with my skates and stick.”
Right leg drives steel into a frozen bay
sending ice crystals singing in the air.
Each stride plunges razor-steel into ice
in a silky rhythm sending my heart
into synchronized pounding applause of gratitude.
Fire in my veins,
wrists and hands dance with the puck on my stick.
In full flight my torso sends a blade into pivot action,
skating backwards now, puck still on tape.
He moves in me, incarnate with every stride
Skates, stick, and puck move
in a unified motion
like planets circling the sun.
Slowing into a long gliding arc I stop
captured by the beautiful sweeping arches
carved on a frozen water canvas.
Gazing now at the horizon where tall pines reach for clouds,
I wonder as the Psalmist did:
What is man that you are mindful of him,
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,
crowned him with glory and honour.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at his feet… (Psalm 8:4-7)
Hand under my chin, resting on my stick
eyes closed, in silent stillness, I pray:
“Thank you, I love you,
thank you for being here with me
you are everything.”
Laces loose, stick at my side
Creation rests in his Presence.