... and now perhaps it is. The Olympics.  Love them or loath them, they have been the main focus of the UK news for the past two weeks. And what an amazing two weeks it has been. We've laughed and cried, shouted and cheered, tallied the totals, even painted some letterboxes golden. "I hope ," posted the Revd Richard Pennystan on Facebook this morning, "I hope we look back on the summer of 2012, as the moment when British culture shifted from cynicism and criticism, to joy, honour & creativity." Shifted from the riots and despair of exactly one year ago, to the feelings of pride and togetherness; and maybe, just maybe, looking forward to the Para-olympics in a couple of weeks. Paul replied to the Revd RP:  'I think the media backed down a little in the second week and stopped referring to anything less than Gold as a failure. I'm looking forward to the Paralympics. If anything can encourage us all to try harder it must be those who achieve success despite their "disadvantages".'

For what have we seen recently but the young (and not so young, think of the 71 year old Japanese Equestrian!) trying their hardest, their best, for themselves, their team, their country. From Mr Bean (that seems longer than just 2 weeks ago, doesn't it?) to Gabby Douglas and Mo Farah,


to Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking

there has been an outpouring of effort and determination, of sweat and tears, of elation and despair. Of joy, honour and creativity.

And we , we who have sat and watched from our armchairs or maybe even from our seats in an arena or our picnic rugs in Hyde Park, we too have poured out ourselves in support and tears and joy and elation. A spate of medals caused our household to open a bottle of champagne to celebrate  - it was also our son and daughter-in-law's tenth wedding anniversary, I have to add, but that wasn't the main reason given by the Vicar!  We have all rejoiced,  waved our arms and flags, chatted with perfect strangers sitting next to us in various venues, been amazed at the spirit of goodwill and bonhomie on the  Tubes and buses (and noted how empty they and all of London seem to be apart from the Olympics-bound) and enjoyed joining in this wonderful adventure of elation.

So is it all over? Will we revert to our normal British cynicism and underdogness, our critical spirit and humourlessness, our lack of joie de vivre? Will Monday August 13th see us crawling back to work, deflated, tired; crashing down from the pinnacle of this London 2012? It's been an addiction, this past two weeks. Are we now heading back to our little lives of 'quiet desperation' (Henry David Thoreau)?

We don't have to. We can choose not to.

"We are captivated by the Olympic spirit because it is that same spirit that we long to re-ignite in our own lives.  The joy of living comes from pressing toward excellence.  Watching tiny, 15-year-old children fly through the air with ease and cut through the water like dolphins, reminds us of the pain, the effort and the thrill of being everything we can be. It reminds us of when we chose to dance instead of shuffle. The Olympics reminds us of what it looks like to live: discipline, dedication to a goal, the quest for excellence, risk, pain—all the essence of being fully alive. Things we often leave behind as we are swallowed up making a living instead of living.  Benjamin Franklin said, 'Many men die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75.' With the sound of the closing Olympic ceremonies still ringing in your ears, don’t sit on the moment. Capture it. Walk, run, read, love, study, discover. Life doesn’t have a winners’ circle; it just has a finish line and you’re not done running yet." (Ken Davis)

Will you choose to push on towards the goal? To give of your best - for the extension of the Kingdom and the Glory of the Lord?

Instead of feeling deflated, can we spur one another on, encourage one another, build one another up, run together towards the finish line?

It's not all over yet. We still have time to be in the greatest race of our time - our own.