by Father Mark Goldasich
The votes of the judges were unanimous. On a scale of 1 to 10, they rated my performance: 0. Yes, that’s right, a zero!
Afterwards, one judge commented, “It’s too bad that we couldn’t award negative numbers, because he sure deserved them.”
Aw, give me a break. After all, it was my very first time. I should have gotten at least a point for trying.
Here’s the deal: Last Friday, I found myself at KCIC in Shawnee. That’s the Kansas City Ice Center. A longtime friend has taken up (and been loving) ice skating and she thought I’d enjoy a new adventure. I said, “Hey, why not?” Saying it was easy, but when the day actually came, I was terrified.
My friend reassured me that Friday morning was the perfect time to go since it was reserved for adult skaters, age 18 and above — and there were rarely more than about a dozen people there.
When getting my rental skates, I asked the person if she had any that came with training wheels. She looked up and said, “Just make sure you lace these up tight.” I was so inept that my friend even had to help me with that.
Standing up, I was proud at how easily I balanced on the one blade. In fact, I didn’t fall even once heading to the rink. Granted, I was walking on carpeting, but still . . .
Everything changed once I actually got on the ice. I’d watched a couple of YouTube videos the day before that provided tips for first-time skaters. Those were obviously designed for competent first-time skaters, of which I was not. I’m guessing I made it about 35 seconds before my first fall. That was to be one of many. How many? After about 10, I lost count.
Now, if points were being awarded by judges for creative ways to fall, I would have scored a perfect 10. Meanwhile, I watched my friend as she glided effortlessly forward and backward across the ice. She came over often to give me helpful hints (and hold me up!). Although my mind understood, my body refused to cooperate.
Eventually, I told her to skate far away from me, so she wouldn’t be embarrassed by my incompetence. She could just pretend I was some random, uncoordinated stranger who wandered in off the street. (Being my friend, she wouldn’t agree to do that.)
In time, we took a break to enjoy some coffee and a Coke. Again, I navigated the carpeting without incident. A woman who had been skating was leaving. She turned at the door and said, “You are really brave!” I replied, “Brave? Or foolish?” She said again, “Brave!”
Happily, I broke no bones on this adventure. And I suspect that my frequent falls so smoothed out the ice that KCIC could give their Zamboni a rest for the day.
So, what’s the point of all this? Throughout the season of Easter, we hear about the new life that the Lord has ushered in. But we often forget that that newness comes at a cost; there’s a learning curve to it.
Using my ice skating as an example, doing something new asks us to face our fears and be willing to lose control. It calls us to be patient and open to learning. It asks us to not take ourselves so seriously and be willing to be embarrassed.
And, in the face of failure, we’re encouraged to keep on getting up.
Just as my friend stayed to encourage me and shepherd me on the ice, so does our Shepherd accompany us in living the new life of Easter, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Let’s not be afraid to let the Lord stretch us out of our comfort zones in these days as he did the early Christians.
So, will I attempt to ice skate again? You bet . . . just as soon as Amazon delivers my suit of armor.