Bishop Nigel’s recent article in Dundee Courier - Overcoming our fears


Overcoming our fears

Watching my six year old granddaughter do it finally persuaded me. Encouraged by my ‘come on Dad, life is for living’ daughter I made the call and booked a lesson. I then fretted at the prospect for 24 hours. But after a lifetime of avoiding the activity, I finally took to skis in Glenshee.

With snowflakes swirling in the air my young instructor patiently coaxed me into gliding, turning and generally not being on my backside too often. My big fear was not being able stop, hurtling faster down an icy slope with an inevitable crash. And yet the thrill of enjoying the snow-covered open spaces of the Cairngorms National Park on skis appealed to my hillwalking side.

I took a risk that my skiing would be actually OK, at least not a total failure, telling myself that it would be like learning to ride a bike. Once on the snow certainly there was no pain, no gain – how did I manage to do the splits so wide at my age?

The feeling of achievement afterwards is rewarding. I’ve had a go, loved it and wouldn’t be frightened to ski again, even badly. I’ll be quickly overtaken by the skill of my granddaughter next winter, but I wasn’t the only ‘late starter’ out there and we seemed to have some fun on the learner slopes.

Now in May, following an unusually long winter the Glenshee skiing centre is likely to finally run out of customers before running out of snow. Ease of access to the glens is a privilege for those who live in Courier country and it’s great to see all ages taking to the ski slopes. The fresh air, exercise and self-confidence it provides must be good for us. 

Each of us is fearful about something. Growing up, I was probably more nervous about trying things than was really necessary. Later in life we may become more confident. A great deal depends on the encouragements or discouragements which surround us. As the City of Discovery, Dundee is a place where people seem unafraid to try new things; not least of these being the re-shaping of the Waterfront, business start-ups at a time of recession and pioneering research at our two universities.

There is much to be said for not worrying about what we cannot do but forging ahead where our talents and enthusiasms lie. At the end of the day we have to be ourselves. There is a little prayer which captures this aspiration well:  ‘Lord, help us to change the things we can change; helps us to accept what we cannot change; and give us the wisdom to know the difference.’

The Christian faith celebrates the triumph of life over death and the transformation of the lives of individuals and communities. Easter expands the horizons of the possible.

The Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton is the Bishop of Brechin of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Bishop Nigel’s article appeared in the Courier on 7 May 2013 under the title: ‘My skis took me toward the horizon of the possible.’

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