I love ice skating, by which I mean, I love watching other people ice skate on a screen from my couch. So much of what people do in life is much harder than it looks.
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11 (NRSV)
I love ice skating, gliding gracefully, heartily healthy in the cold air. You spin, then stop and lean down to help the little ones who may be out for the very first time, barely able to lace up their tiny skates.
My dream skating spot was an Art Deco hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, where a Christmastime rink is built right on Lake Mendota. But instead of being invited to dance on ice with Santa, I was marshaled to a moldy counter where they demanded I hand over my shoes. In exchange, I got large plastic space boots with swords underneath. Even worse, I believe the boots they were trying to sell me had been worn before.
Once on the rink, my only stability came from hugging the outside railing while wee children humiliated me by asking me to move on. I felt justified in encouraging them to skate out to the center so that I could hold fast to the edge. To my amazement, they did so without difficulty. Clearly, there was something wrong with my equipment. I decided to reclaim my own shoes forthwith. This was no winter wonderland. It was hell on a lake.
Now, let me clarify one small narrative point. When I said, “I love ice skating,” perhaps it would be more accurate for me to have said, “I love watching other people skate,” and mostly on a screen from my couch. Once I was back in my own shoes, and sipping a medicinal brandy from the sidelines, I watched the real skaters’ artistry with new awe and appreciation.
So much of what people do in life is much harder than it looks.
Help me see the hard work behind what looks easy for others and give me more patience with myself when the work is hard. Amen.
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.