Wednesday, January 11, 2012
So I am in Wengen for a week, enjoying perfect snow and now wonderful blue, sunlit skies. My gold skis are shining brightly as they speed over the white expanse, and I am having a great time.
Today was especially wonderful.
I spent the day with Sheridan & a group from the DHO (Downhill Only Club) as we explored the Murren side of the resort. In all honesty, I have never really enjoyed skiing on this side of the mountain, but I'm prepared to accept that this prejudice comes from my early days on skis and bears no relation to rationality. Now, I simply don't know these parts, and so I avoid them.
However, a day with Sheridan guiding us around is always a pleasure, and although the first couple of runs made me go, "Oh yes, I remember - DHO speed. Fast;" I soon forgot that I'd had to find an extra gear and just enjoyed the flow.
Of course, the highlight of this side of the mountain is the Schilthorn, famous as Blofeld's lare in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I've often been up on the cable car, enjoyed the view from the restaurant at the top - and caught the cable car down. I've never skiied it before. But today was the day. Dressed in black, with my trusty Volants on my feet, I was ready. Ready as I'd ever be.
Of course, I had no idea that the top of the run, the scary bit, was not simply very long and very steep - but also in the current conditions covered in moguls. Bumps. Requiring a particular skill some of you will have, but which is only occasionally something I possess... and then seldom beyond a certain degree slope. This was way beyond that degree. Mercifully I had amazing friends from the DHO to guide me down, and though I took a couple of tumbles (one rather spectacular) and would score zero points for style, I made it. There was a moment I felt I'd lost my head battle and could have cried when I looked down and felt that I'd travelled miles and there seemed to be the whole slope still ahead of me, but then I actually started to enjoy the experience. Earlier, I'd been working my hardest to appear to be a decent skier as I was travelling with everyone and thus not quite relaxing; now I really could not pretend, I failed again & again & began to just be and be myself and enjoy the whole darned show. It was - exhilarating. Totally beyond me, and totally wonderful. Stuck on a mountain with no option but to keep going, I guess I had to trust the skill I had (small measure) and the people I was with (wonderful, just wonderful) and I suddenly loved it. Amazing. All my natural reserve let go for a moment. The sun, the beauty, the wonder - the stillness of the Spirit holding me and keeping me safe. Awesome.
I should have been exhausted. I was. I am. But I kept going & we skiied for ages afterwards, and actually I felt like I could have carried on.
Perhaps it was the remnants of a dream I had last night still easing their way into my subconscious.
Is it a human condition to doubt that we are loved, or does no-one else struggle with this? In my former life as a vicar, people often told me how much I was loved. I never believed it. I felt I was loved for my role, for what I brought to the parochial table. For gifts (gladly) offered, and for time (gladly) spent. The confusion of the professional & personal "me" is always a difficulty for a pastor. It is easy to accept the good one does (and also the good one does not do) and to acknowledge it as service. It is hard to feel loved simply for being oneself, as it is so hard to divorce the actions of the role from the simple person inside. So (I am guessing like many people do) I chose to accept the kind wishes given as professional regard. And park it as such under "not quite personally relevant".
And yet last night, from nowhere, indeed if anything against my experiences of the previous day where I had received an email whilst on holiday which had stressed me and which had made me feel small and unloved at first, before trying to respond in a way which might be more helpful (though didn't deal with my own feelings) - from this place I had a dream where someone I do not know, a person called Paul, offered to do a small task and did it to show me I was loved. The task was inconsequential. My reaction in the dream to being told why it was happening was extraordinarily emotional.
Because - I felt loved. Genuinely. Not for what I do, or for a role I inhabit, or a task I fulfil, but I felt loved. Me. This was done for me. I awoke and wondered at the power of this thing. This simple act revealed a love I talk about all the time - how God loves us, me you, each and every one of us; and yet I have seldom felt the truth of that love as I felt it in that moment. A person I had never seen did a small act that made the power of God's love overwhelm me. I was loved.
And then I had a glorious day. A gift. An exhilarating time. Safety in extremis. Beauty and majesty all around me and kind people and glory.
So perhaps the remnant of the dream took away fear, and replaced it with something else -
Gratitude. Felt in my sleep, deeply, and on the mountainside, wonderfully.