(Photo by Gerry Thomas/Calgary Flames)
Before I meet with the kids, I ask God to help me say the right things. Everyone’s story is unique, so I try to make sure that whatever I say can help them. Whatever their story, whatever their struggle, I hope God helps me inspire them.
Even before I get to the rink, I try to put my mind right by heading over to my local church. Even if it’s just for 2, 3, or maybe 5 minutes, it just gives me peace. Peace about what’s happened in the past, and peace about what’s about to happen later that night. My wife prays for me before I take the ice, and then I say a prayer of my own before the game starts, just asking for God’s presence and knowing that my guardian angel is out there somewhere.
I was asked recently if that guardian angel is my Dad, but I think I’ve had the same guardian angel since I’ve been born. But I do believe my Dad is watching me play hockey from Heaven.
I don’t try and push my beliefs on anyone, but if anyone asks, I’m happy to tell them. Or even more simply, they can just look at my left arm.
The tattoo near my shoulder is of God carrying someone by the ocean. You’ve probably heard the story about how a man walking along the beach with God saw four footprints in the sand, but when he looked back at the most difficult times in his life, he only saw two footprints. When the man noticed the missing set of footprints, he asked God why He abandoned him during those rough times, only to discover that the two footprints were because God was carrying him during those times in need.
When I look in the mirror now, and I can see what God has given me, I know that God indeed carried me through those tough times. And even though I’m not God, I hope I can lift others up as well.
The Bible says that in Heaven there is no sorrow, or crying, or pain, so I know that my Dad is resting peacefully there. I just hope that when he’s watching me from Heaven, he knows that I still carry him with me wherever I go.