By Jerilyn E. Felton, D.Min., Associate, Lay Consecrated
The author completed her Doctor of Ministry degree in 2012, promoting a program approach for integrating canine companions into ministry. She has been an avid ice skater for the past 50 years and in retirement she continues to develop her skating and judging skills.
I think it can be argued that one of the most popular recent movies is the animated feature “Frozen.” It is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s marvelous tale of becoming the best you can be within a supportive community of love and encouragement. Hidden in the wonderful story is this kernel of wisdom that calls to individuals to see things differently.
Seeing others’ gifts and encouraging them to use their talents can take skating to a level of care that I would term “spirit-ual.” Within the various populations that make up the skating community, this can be clearly seen if one looks through the right lens.
Competitive skaters often train apart from recreational skaters, but it’s not unusual for them to encounter one another in a public session. More often than not, recreational skaters have ventured onto the ice because of the grace, flow and fun they’ve witnessed on televised skating programs. When they find skating is not as easy as it looks, they may approach a proficient skater with a request for tips on, for example, skating backwards. The result may be suggestions and encouragement that spark a desire on the newbie’s part to keep going – a form of “spirit-ual” care for another.
Even among those at the highest skill level, random acts of support and encouragement occur when one competitive skater helps another by accurately assessing a skating problem and offering a suggestion. The advice may be identical to what a coach has already said, but it makes more sense coming from a fellow member of the skating community, and it’s often a key factor that helps the one experiencing difficulty to overcome an obstacle. This is especially important when skaters have suffered a setback, such as failing a test despite giving their best efforts. At that moment, an encouraging word can translate into true “spirit-ual” care.
Individuals of all ages are drawn to skating and ice dancing because of their love for a challenge. In particular, the older members of this community – the “super seniors” who begin after the age of 60 – appreciate encouragement from younger adult skaters who know from personal experience how difficult learning the sport can be. These beginning adult skaters may have the goals of improving their health and well-being. They often do become excellent skaters. But there are no dreams of Olympic medals in the “super senior” ranks. These skaters (yours truly included) seek the joy of moving in time to music, and the chance to belong to a supportive and active community where random acts of encouragement tend to be commonplace.
“Believing is seeing” is a twist on a common adage – one has only to believe in the potential of another to see the possibilities that person can actualize. This is how something like skating can become “un-frozen,” transformed into an experience far beyond what was expected.