Friday, 30 October 2009

4. The Try

As the final whistle blew we erupted in celebration, like so-many roman candles on Bonfire Night. ‘Did you see that try?’ my mind shouted to the crowd of onlookers. An awkward pass well inside our opponents half, deftly caught. Then I ran like the wind, dodging, ducking, until with a wham my feet were pulled from under me, only yards from the touch line. The ball flew from my hands and curved into the air, but like an eel I slipped free, half turned, caught the ball as it fell, and with a final surge and dive planted it firmly behind the posts. We had done it, we had won! Now everyone was leaping around, cheering. Our bodies needed no rest and our energies were not depleted, but for old-time’s sake we conjured a massive tea with cakes so light and full of flavour that one slice fully satisfied and sated the appetite. Some favoured orange squash, others tea or beer; each one summoned refreshment according to his heartfelt desire.
Getting the team together hadn’t been easy. I had rounded up every Lions cap I could find, old team-mates and our many predecessors. Some took a degree of persuasion, having exhausted their more earthly desires and left for finer realms. Others were fully occupied with other tasks, travelling, teaching, healing of various types, but most of them finally agreed to play, and others to cheer us on. Old age and infirmity were replaced by our most youthful bodies, each in his prime and dressed in something resembling the kit he wore at the height of his powers. We decided to distinguish the two teams not but their strip but by the luminous hue that surrounded their bodies – green for one and blue for the other. The memories of earthly matches, so slow and clumsy by comparison to our glorious game, had begun to fade but there was one occasion that I still needed to exorcise from my consciousness - to clean and polish and renew, before hanging up my boots for good. I was twelve years old, my first match. I was so proud that my dad had come to watch me. He had been a famous player in his time and I wanted to impress with my whole soul and with every fibre of my being. I dreamt of being ‘man of the match’; in sleep I had covered myself and my team with glory, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. But in that game we call life I was left dejected and defeated. No one passed the ball to me. As I ran up and down the field, longing for some of the action, my fellow players seemed to look straight through me. While my legs grew tired, my spirit dropped like a stone thrown into a deep well. It was as if the game were a bus that never stopped to pick me up. I shouted, ‘Over here! I ran and tackled, but the ball had moved on. My youthful inexperience and my shrinking confidence brought me to a standstill. The new boy no one wanted to know, whom no one trusted. My body may have continued to move but my spirit died, all joy and bravado extinguished. On the journey home I cried quietly, but no one even seemed to notice; it was as if I wasn’t even there.
The game in which each one plays their part, each is acknowledged, and no one fails, had worked its magic and restored that piece of my soul-energy to me. The cords that held the old memory in place slipped away as I shone and spun, a kaleidoscope of colours and sound, joyful, light, so full of love and bursting with energy. No longer individuals, we play as a single mind, body and soul. We are a team. We are One.

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