Professional sports and the season of Advent have nothing in common. Some might consider it irreverent to even use one as analogous to the other but then again even the idea of the divine taking on human flesh is kind of irreverent anyway. In exchange for the usual Advent words: peace, joy, hope, and love, I offer four other words for contemplation this Advent season. Each one will be illustrated from the world of sports.

SILENCE

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” No church Christmas season is ever without this classic Christmas carol. Although a human mother giving birth in a stable was probably anything but calm and silent, the aura of a “silent night” as a symbol of Christmas is endearing and enduring. In Canada Christmas is associated with snow; there is nothing more silent than being outside on a cold winter’s night with snow softly falling. I’ve experienced it! One my favourite winter activities that I experienced on the prairies was ice skating on our horseshoe slough in the evening with a full moon overhead. There is no sound but the silent swish, swish of the skate blades on ice. Silence is beautiful. Silence is reverent. Silence is wonderful.

Unfortunately, Canada’s national sport played on ice has been anything but silent of late. The clean ice and the soft white snow have been assaulted with verbal diarrhea. First, it was hockey commentator, Don Cherry, ranting about immigrants on Hockey Night in Canada. Then it was Bill Peters, coach of the Calgary Flames, who was called out on racist comments made while he was a junior coach. Mike Babcock, one of the most respected coaches in the game, was revealed as full of arrogant words and mean-spirited ways. Then reporters and tweeters weighed in with all their opinions, from saying that the “trash-talking” is just part of the game to self-righteous condemnation of the public scapegoats.

Perhaps we should all shut up. Hockey is not the only culprit. Politicians, preachers, party-goers, pontificaters, puny peons… all people, pay attention! We live in a noisy world where one of the most difficult disciplines is to stop and be silent. That first Christmas night may not have been particularly calm and quiet but there is something about the event of Christ’s birth that should cause us to stop our noise and words to pause in reverent silence. “Let all the earth keep silent” is a word we need to hear this Advent season.