Thought for the week, 16th December; What I have learnt from the world cup

So in the week before Christmas, my thoughts turn to football…. But it was Albert Camus, a famous French philosopher who claimed that he learnt about the human condition whilst playing as goal-keeper in his local football team. And so, through the tears, I turn back to the events of last Saturday night, when yet again England fell at the quarter-finals. But it was not the match itself that struck me; I’ve watched enough football to know about the disappointment. It was the films of the England supporters watching on the big screens set up in city centres. How they shared joy; the exuberance when England scored. How they shared disappointment; the huddles at the final whistle as they embraced each other and exchanged words of consolation, trying to make sense of how they felt and how they would go forward. And then I thought about the surveys that, for many decades, have shown how people increasingly have rejected organised religion, especially, in the country, Christianity. That is true, but in the moments of glory and dejection of a big sporting event, people share in a what I can only call a spiritual experience; they share the emotions that I feel in my faith. Of course, you do not need to believe in God to experience these emotions, I doubt many of those jumping and weeping would have given the Divine a second thought. But I think it does show that we are all spiritual people; that is something that contributes to how we respond emotionally and perhaps intellectually. For those of us who have a religious faith, that gives us a way of understanding and responding to the “spiritual” side of our nature. But everyone, whether religious or not, shares in a spirituality.