Physical and spiritual in harmony
THE morning after the tremendously uplifting Paralympics Opening Ceremony, one of the headings on the BBC website read: "Your idea of achievement is about to change for ever."
The week has been full of uplifting stories of people overcoming, often massive, odds stacked against them and achieving way beyond their expectations.
Perhaps this is a good time for all of us to think about what our idea of achievement actually is.
What goals do I have in my life? What am I aiming to achieve? How will I know when I've "arrived"?
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More and more people seem to be realising that personal fulfilment is not something we can achieve through our own endeavours and it is not a commodity we can buy, eat or store up for ourselves.
Achievement doesn't seem to be purely about personal endeavour, either, but also about a shared experience with family, friends, supporters.
Sometimes it is easy to look at individual athletes and forget that behind them is an army of people who have helped them "make it".
It is very rare for any of us to achieve anything entirely alone.
So, what are your personal battlegrounds and how high are your expectations?
Sometimes, it takes massive challenges to bring about heart-warming answers and often the heart-warming answer hides a multitude of hurts, pains and setbacks, many of which are known only to the individual and those closest to them.
"I am what I am" were the closing words on the electronic display at the end of the opening ceremony, a challenge and a request for acceptance for all and a close reminder of God's description of himself in the Old Testament.
The ceremony gave me a sense of something bigger than just a bunch of people having a good time: The physical and spiritual in harmony together.
Call it Presence or Great Spirit or Cosmic Love, if you feel the word "God" has too much baggage.
No doubt we will hear many amazing stories in the coming weeks and let's trust the legacy will be that more of us have a lasting recognition of where our sense of personal fulfilment truly comes from.
Bev Smerdon is from Compton Methodist Church