Lessons learned from Sk8er Boi

I took the youth to an outdoor skating rink in impressive Canary Warf this last Saturday, partly because it seemed like a good time, but mostly because being the only person who knew how to skate was good for my self-esteem.

Skating here is a bit different than what I’m used to from Canada, and by different I mean more expensive. But it was beautiful and fun and a great time.

But the best part of it was watching a few dozen non-skaters slip and slide around the rink, especially early on when the ice was extra slick, and the others extra unpracticed.

There were two main groups that stood out. Around the rim, clinging to the boards, were one group, shuffling slowly and carefully and safely in circles. The main risks they faced were the occasionally corner they dared to cut. As a group, they stayed mostly upright. But to say they went skating would be a bit of a stretch.

The other group were best personified by one of the youth, Nathan. Nathan had never skated a day in his life. Possibly he had tried out roller blades, but that doesn’t help much.

Nathan fell. A lot.


He was usually a mess of uncoordinated limbs flying at odd angles around the ice.

He trousers were caked with snow before our session was half over.

But you should have seen how good he was. Not at the beginning. At the beginning he was objectively awful. But by the end he was amazing, flying around the ice with only the occasional fall, unrecognizable from the skater who first tottered onto the ice.

It was fun to watch because although he didn’t enjoy falling any more than the next guy, it was all accepted as part of the process of learning to skate.

I love that idea, where getting anywhere significant includes the possibility of getting a few bruises and looking ridiculous. The church we are a part of here in London is considering a shift from a traditional format-Sunday services, select leadership, the usual church programs-to one that is increasingly dispersed in order to take the mission outward to the community.

Not that this doesn’t involve risk. Or the possibility of a few knocks along the way.

But for the chance to get somewhere amazing? It’s worth it all.

It may be easier to do what has been done before-hanging around the boards on the perimeter. But it is so much more fun to be the guy with the flailing limbs and trousers covered in snow, on the way to something great.

A bit of a ramble, perhaps. But I’m learning to really enjoy following the God who smiles on all sorts of adventures, if they are taken with a desire to please him. On one level we could not be more safe or secure, but at the same time there is an incredible adventure with all sorts of risks and unpredictability. I think Nathan will be a great model for me.

There may have been easier ways to spend the hour on the ice, but I can’t help but think he had the most fun.

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