Where were you when you first experienced elation? I have vague, early-childhood memories of blissful birthdays with cakes shaped as Subbuteo pitches and parties at water parks. In my teenage years I hit new heights kayaking down French alpine rivers, dodging rocks and trees, mostly the right way up, to be rewarded with pure adulation coursing through my veins at the finish.
Of course, in sports, there was the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, that 5-1 against Germany, the Miracle at Medinah, Super Saturday, and last year when Tuilagi opened up the All Blacks’ back line like a bayonet through a pack of ravioli.
When I recall these memories I find my mind has assiduously mapped out the little details surrounding the events. It was as if I was a little bit more conscious, a little bit more alert. I felt more alive; and it felt good.
It’s little wander that we spend good money and much time pursuing things in life that leave us feeling good. It is, after all, nice to feel good. Great experiences, like a concert or climbing a mountain or a fantastic holiday, cause us to seek for further great experiences.
When we come back from our travels the first question often is, “Where next?” The pursuit of pleasure leads us to open up our wallets and map out our time with war-room-like efficiency.
Now currently, we are told that around 12% of people in Britain attend some kind of church once a month. On that basis, one could conclude that our country isn’t particularly religious, yet our behaviours I think tell another story.
Consider the humble football fan. He supports the team his father did, and lives locally enough to make it to most of the home games. He has a season ticket, and a draw in his bedroom with team shirts of years gone by. After the game he comes home and turns on the TV to watch the highlights and catch up on the rest of the league.
Through the ups and downs and the comings and going of new managers, he sticks by his team. Visiting regularly, checking the website, inviting his friends, and spending his cash. What about that is not religious?
And to an extent I’m with him. Saturday evening, when the world is a little quieter, I quite like a bit of Match of the Day. I like the routine, the familiarity, the ‘quick fix’ of action, and of course, catching the goals. And apparently I’m not the only one with around seven million viewers tuning in over the weekend.
Having now been going for 50 years, it really has become an institution. In the recent ‘Match of the Day at 50’ program, Thierry Henry when asked about his thoughts on the show replied, “It’s like going to church, you know, it’s a religious thing. It’s part of the culture in England.” I think he’s spot on.
And in this statement I think lies the fact that Britain is indeed a religious nation. It is a religious nation because it is a nation of worshippers. No, it might not be the Christian God or another religion that the majority of the people turn to for comfort and hope, but it will be something.
In our lives we have these sunshine-through-the-clouds moments, mini-revelations or periods of elation perhaps. We stare at them, think on them, analyse and run after them because we are looking to orientate our lives in a certain direction.
We worship. The choice we have then is what or who do we worship? What or who is truly worthy to be worshiped? Many of us are content to fix our eyes on the moment, the experience, the snippet of ecstasy and miss the author of all these things, God.
The next time you hit a high, enjoy it. Enjoy it and be thankful, and then, perhaps the next day when you wake up, why not begin to investigate why you are grateful and to whom you ought to offer your thanks?