In the sport of downhill ski racing, a race is often won by only a few hundredths of a second!
So the difference between winning an Olympic gold medal in downhill ski racing, and not even medaling at all and coming in 4th, is often just a few hundredths of a second!
So, what advantage does the winner have over the other skiers?
What makes the difference?
Experts in the world of downhill skiing will point to the type of ski suit the skier is wearing.
Ski suits have evolved over time to the point where today, the Olympic, world-class skier racing today, is wearing the most seamless, skin-tight, light-weight suit imaginable, designed specifically to help racers achieve top speeds of over 100 km/hr, and shave precious mili-seconds off the clock.
The best ski suits reduce wind resistance when speeding down a course.
Most recently, based on wind tunnel testing, the newest and best suits have small indentations similar to the dimples on a golf ball.
It’s been found that these suits reduce wind drag by 1 to 3 percent, giving a skier an advantage of ½ to 1 second in a downhill run.
Small yet significant advantages, all for reducing wind drag, so a skier can even more quickly, seamlessly ski down a mountain.
Unencumbered by bulky or angular clothing and heavy, thick materials, stripped of useless bulk and weight, the skier has less wind resistance, and can go faster.
The 1st verse of chapter 12 in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament says: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…”
This imagery of shedding and discarding the weight of sin that bogs us down…
…this sense of letting go of excessive attachments, addictions, unrestrained pride and ego…
…this sense of letting go of this common illusion that all things are permanent in life – our buildings, bank accounts, and positions …
…letting go of self-loathing, this sense of feeling we’re not lovable, “not good enough”, with little or no value or worth…letting go of that “muck”…
…this letting go of all of that,…
…so that we can see… see ourselves, as we really are – precious and loved -, see others as they are – interesting, wonderful mysteries and also precious and loved, – and, see all of life as it really is – full of God’s grace and goodness…
And most importantly, so we can see God in Jesus, who plainly and simply stands before us… drawing us to God’s light and love.
I like this imagery of letting go, and clearing away all the sludge and muck that weighs us down ….so we can fly!
One could also say that the “sludge and muck” in our modern 21st century world is the immense distracted-ness in our lives.
We’re so distracted and divided by our addiction to information and news which we can so easily access at our fingertips.
We’re so constantly distracted by our mobile gadgets.
We’re so distracted and busy with our work, driven mindlessly and frenetically always to do more, and more.
We’re so distracted by so many trivial preoccupations and pleasures.
We’ve become so divided and fragmented within ourselves …so much so, that we’ve simply forgotten how “to be”, how to become still, and face the truth and mystery of our lives.
We’ve forgotten how to be at ease with ourselves and others,
…to be able simply to behold and appreciate one another,
…and to be able to see God in Jesus, simply and plainly, standing before us.
When Jesus, Peter, James and John were on the mountain praying by themselves, as we heard in the Gospel reading, the disciples began to see a strange vision appear before them – a vision of Moses and Elijah suddenly appearing before them, and Jesus taking on a brilliant, bright shining aura.
Clearly encountering an inexplicable, divine vision of mystical proportions, Peter – a man driven by many compulsions – immediately wants to “get busy” building three “dwellings” or tents up there on the mountain – so as to capture the moment, and presumably, have all of them stay up there on the mountain for an extended time.
But before Peter can launch into frenetic busy-ness, the voice of God booms out of the cloud: “This is Jesus my Beloved… Listen to him!”
In other words: Stop rushing about trying to be mindlessly busy.
And listen to Jesus!
Listen to his words of love.
Follow his way of loving attention toward others.
Abide in Jesus, so your loving actions toward others flow out of your loving attention to Jesus.
The disciples were learning to let go of everything that kept them from seeing Jesus plainly and simply.
The true story is told of a woman who worked and lived in New York City.
Having a good job, and achieving some success, she nevertheless was feeling it was all too much:
…too much stress;
…too much pressure from her job;
…too frenetic and overwhelming.
And she was feeling lonely, isolated.
Weighed down by all of this, she decided to move out of the city, to live in the outskirts, and commute back into the city only for work.
She also began a daily practice of meditation. She joined a weekly prayer/meditation group.
And after 18 months of this new lifestyle, she began to notice a change.
…When she’d commute into the city for work she suddenly began to see everything around her differently.
…It was the same ordinary routines and relationships at work, but all of that took on a different look and meaning…. more hopeful and good.
…She began to discover a new view of life, new horizons, new possibilities …
The feelings of alienation and isolation began to crumble, and instead, she began to feel more in touch with her colleagues and other friends, re-discovering, and revaluing these professional and personal relationships.
Having learned to let go of pressures to achieve and succeed and acquire, more balance was restored to her life and work.
Life no longer seemed like a big threat to conquer, or problem to be solved, but more like a mystery to be encountered, explored and savoured.
Life transformation is all about a radical letting go…
…letting go of the useless and meaningless “baggage” we carry…
…so we can learn to see everything and everyone in a new way, as it really is – a world loved and held by a gracious God, who in Jesus, stands ever before us, drawing us toward his light and love.