As we find ourselves in lockdown again, we are reminded of how good ‘normal’ life is and how nourishing being with others is. During this period we can draw much profit spiritually though. Reflecting on your prayer and lived faith practices can help you become more aware of what brings the most benefit and also offers you the challenge of trying something new.
With the Olympics continuing throughout this period of lockdown, via the Paralympics, let us take some time to celebrate participation and achievement spiritually via a sporting analogy.
You might consider the different forms of diving as an allegory to your prayer and faith life.
Consider each of the following and determine which best describes your faith life and what you could explore by applying other aspects to your prayer life and lived faith.
The Mexican Cliff Diver – A person who has great courage and faith in God. These divers are outwardly outrageously extroverted but are in fact private and humble in themselves; don’t let looks deceive you. They rely on their own judgment but they leap into the water believing that all will be well – and it always is. These divers inspire us to be more public in our faith and, although we never seem to be able to jump off the cliff edge as they do, they motivate us to be a bold.
The Olympian – A person who is at the peak of their sport and spectacular to watch. These divers are amazing. Their poor dives are better than anything we could hope to achieve. Their dedication is the key to their success although their obsession can be a little off-putting. The gold medallists know that their hard work is only part of the story; there is a transcendent element to their success. These divers inspire us to live our faith with commitment and become more than we currently are. We are encouraged to live with more commitment or consistency so that we may be able to achieve what for them is simple.
The Scuba Diver – These divers are social and vibrant. They travel far to explore new things. Some have goals they would like to achieve, others just like being part of the group. Most of these divers are seasonal and make the most of the good weather and require an enormous amount of equipment to achieve their goal. Many people’s faith lives mirror these divers. The positive found in this reality is that we are supported in our faith and make use to the structures and communities to help deepen our faith, even if the consistency required to become an expert is lacking.
The Skin Diver – These divers are goal oriented. They have a goal and when they dive they are committed to achieving it. Whether they seek lobster or spear fish for tuna they are rarely distracted and ultimately achieve their objective. They require a little more equipment to be successful. They inspire us to enter into formation programs or prayer communities with a goal in mind. The focus they illustrate helps us settle on a goal rather than constantly starting the next new thing.
The Free Diver – These divers go as deep as they can. Unassisted and with complete self-control they seek to push the limits. Their constant training and the small community they belong to makes their achievements difficult to observe. This is the most dangerous form of diving; forgetting to breathe can ruin everything. These divers motivate us to enter more deeply into our relationship with God. Although they may seem insular, once you enter their world they will do anything that can to enable you.
The Basilisk Lizards (The St Peter Lizards) – Although technically not a diver, or human for that matter, these creatures are magical. They literally walk on water. Although they don’t technically even enter the water they do what seems impossible. They remind us that only with complete faith, courage and constant practice can we have the courage to ‘step out into the deep’. They inspire us to be like them, true disciples, that have faith in Jesus and in doing so encounter him tangibly. Of course, once we are on the water we may lose courage and sink a little but Jesus will pull us up and help us offer the miraculous to the world.
As we journey through another period of lockdown take some time over the next week to review your prayer and faith life. Which type of diver best describes you and which type or types of divers challenge you and inspire or challenge you to do things a little differently?
If nothing else I hope the above inspires you to turn the TV on and cheer for the Paralympians who have overcome so many challenges and show us what it is to be courageous and live a life that is full.
Brendan Nicholls is liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius College, Geelong.