While I was preparing this reflection towards the end of February, the Winter OIympics from Sochi were coming to a marvellous conclusion.
I enjoyed watching the Games, marvelling at the skill and bravery of the competitors who, to a man and woman, gave 100 per cent in their efforts to win a medal, making the long, arduous hours of training and personal sacrifice worth every aching muscle and time spent away from loved ones and friends.
We, the viewers, got caught up in the highs and lows of victory and defeat, sharing in the joy and ecstasy of the winners, and aching for the losers, who came with such high hopes and left empty-handed.
I had a special interest in the curling, as I took up this sport last November, courtesy of a scheme called ‘Try Curling Taster Sessions’ which was running at the local ice rink.
I now pay a small fee once a fortnight and launch out on to the ice, along with new friends I have made, as we try and get to grips with the intricacies of curling, sharing in the highs and lows together.
How far I will take this, time will tell but, at the moment, it is enjoyable.
We’re fortunate at the local ice rink to have good coaches, and to hear the passion in their voices for the game they obviously love gives us novices the enthusiasm and encouragement we need, as we follow their guidance and try our best, soaking up the tips and stories they share with us.
During these Games, we saw people trying their best. That’s all we can do in whatever it is we’re involved in – family life, work, play, sport.
We try our best and give all we can.
Often, it is worthwhile and the benefits we reap are great; sometimes, despite trying hard, things don’t work out.
The defeated competitors in Sochi showed great courage in defeat.
They will pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start again on the long road of hard work in the lead up to the next Games.
We keep going, perhaps only one or two steps forward and loads more back, but the effort is worth it.
We are in the first week of Lent, that period in the Christian Church when Christians prepare for Easter by setting time aside to reflect on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.
Asking someone to give up leisure time to go to Lent Bible Studies, give up particular treats, a favourite tipple, read their Bible more, can appear an effort and we struggle to keep going.
We look to Jesus who, throughout his ministry, gave his very best until, on Good Friday, he was defeated and death won – or so it seemed.
But God had other plans.