I have never skied myself, but I am a great admirer of those who do it well; for their strength, agility, courage and concentration. For the downhill competitors ski not on fluffy snow but on hard ice up to speeds of 75 miles per hour, where small misjudgements of line or contact result in calamity.
My Sunday afternoon musings as I view the snowy scene, have brought me to two understandings related to the spiritual life.
First, that the context of our communion with God is often far too narrow. We can concern ourselves with what we want, what we have, what we need to do. We are like anxious skier, rapt by the details of our own internal performance....do we have the time to study? Why can't we pray as others do? In this mode, we are kept in a kind of perpetual unrest - not allowing ourselves to 'be'. For to 'be' is to be attentive to God and the movement of the Spirit in the world and in the circumstances of our lives.
Next, that when we shift our attention to God, we are no longer the isolated, self-centred performer...but one existence in a vast world, directed by a single source of light. We are, to quote Evelyn Underhill: "like a chalet in the Alps, a homely existence gaining atmosphere, dignity, significance from the greatness of the sky above it and the background of the everlasting hills."
My favourite part of the World Cup skiing coverage is always when the camera pulls away from its focus on the course and the skier and shows us the full panorama of peaks, valleys and snow-covered villages. Thus I am reminded of the vastness of the enterprise and each person's small but unique place within it.