View from the Vicarage (July 2019)
I’m sure many of you will know I have not been a dedicated fan of cricket over the years, but when I was offered a ticket to go down to Southampton to see the West Indies play South Africa as part of the Cricket World Cup, I thought I should go and experience a part of this world sporting fixture, learn something about the game, and immerse myself in the excitement of hearing the crack of leather on willow.
We saw just over seven overs before the rain came down and the covers were brought on, so we went and found some food and drink, then having walked around the concourse a few times, we decided to go and see what the clouds were doing. They got darker, then lighter, but the rain continued to fall. We joined others in their seats huddling under umbrellas, rejoicing as the rain turned to drizzle, becoming excited as the umpires came on to inspect the pitch. Then when the covers were taken off to rapturous applause we joined in, excited at the prospect of anything sporting happening on the pitch in front of us.
Then the covers went on again, the moisture machine was stopped and the announcement came that the pitch would be inspected again in 30 minutes. The weather really was going to improve we heard, in spite of the darkening nature of the slow moving clouds above. Hope springs eternal in cricket. This must have happened four or five times before the announcement said the match had finally been abandoned.
I have to admit I really enjoyed my day at the Rose Bowl, and the day made me reflect on life in general. We often think we are embarking on a particular path, then something happens that changes our focus, and we come to see what is going on through a different lens. In the absence of cricket, our focus honed in on the detailed patterns of the clouds. We focused on enjoying the company of those around us, and engaged with strangers who were all keen to enjoy and share the World Cup experience whatever form it took, cold and wet as we were. Life is lived at such a fast pace we would do well to make sure we regularly slow down and open our eyes more fully to the wonderful world God has given us, even when life seems to be full of clouds. There are always people to share what we are dealing with, including our God who has promised to guide and strengthen us through life’s clouds and sunshine. Hope really does spring eternal - that is the Christian promise.