At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks By Showing Up

Last night I took my son, Joshua, to a hockey game. It was the first one we'd been to together since December of 2001, and even then it was a late-night club-level collegiate game between Virginia and Duke at a Charlottesville rink. But last night we went several steps up. No, we didn't go to a St. Louis Blues game (not on our budget), but rather we headed to the Family Arena in St. Charles to watch the hometown St. Charles Chill battle the Tulsa Oilers. And we had the time of our lives.

The action was intense and scrappy, and even though it was the minor-level Central Hockey League and not the NHL, no one there cared. Back and forth the scoring went, and hometown hero Jordan Fox nearly won in for the Chill in regulation had not a wrist shot pinged off the goal post. But the 3-3 game went all the way into overtime, and when that didn't produce a tiebreaker, things went to a shootout, which the Oilers unfortunately won.

But we had a blast. We had great seats (center ice, first row of the upper bowl). The one thing that was a downer was that the listed attendance--for a 10,000 seat venue--was a mere 2,144. Now that's more than the Chill have been drawing, but it's given me a desire to send a letter to the paper imploring more people to turn up to these games. The Chill is an expansion team, new to the league, struggling in the Central Hockey League standings but working extremely hard, and the players are involved in a lot of visible community events. Is it so hard to plunk down five dollars per ticket (yes, you read that right...five dollars for general admission!) and encourage this team by your presence?

It took me back to my late high school years. My dad was the pastor of a small Presbyterian church in central Maryland. One Sunday he was going to be out of town, so he asked a friend in the church--who was finishing up seminary classes and was studying to become a pastor himself--to preach in his stead that Sunday. In the bulletin the week before his absence, Dad included an announcement that Jeff would be preaching and exhorted the congregation to make every effort to come "to hear the Word and to encourage the speaker" (emphasis mine).

The next week, Jeff preached to a church that was barely more than half its normal attendance. And trust me, those who were out weren't on family vacation or in the emergency room for a gall stone the size of Nunavut. I remember we were driving home from that service when Mom--clearly frustrated--said, "Dad is going to be incredibly disappointed! He said to hear the Word and to encourage the speaker!"

To be fair, that wasn't the normal modus operandi of that church. But sadly, very little of either hearing or encouraging happened that day.

Often, we show up to many things in life and expect to be spoon fed, entertained, or whatever. But the people or teams doing their job have put in a lot of work, and the presence of others can be a big "thank you" for their efforts. It goes beyond me hoping the Chill can double or triple their average home attendance. It means that there are people around you every day whose work tends to be the proverbial submerged amount of the iceberg. It doesn't show up publicly. The Chill practice hard. Jeff worked hard in preparing that sermon. But even today, we can show up in gratitude for others. Many people you know work hard in their job, on their special talents, and so on. Maybe an easy way to give thanks for them is to do so consistently: Show up and enjoy them and what they do, not to mention participate in their lives and activity. I would imagine such would be a great encouragement.

Give thanks by showing up. Obviously by showing up at Thanksgiving dinner today...but do so beyond this day.

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