We are staying in the Somerset village of Porlock on its main street leading to the notoriously steep Porlock Hill. On Monday the West Country Cycle Race passed our front door as it completed its third day of racing. Our friends (who own the holiday flat) were out early with chairs set on the pavement in order to cheer the cyclists on. As soon as competitors came into sight they leapt up and starting applauding. My friend shouted out: 'Good one, mate!' (that was his favourite greeting) and 'Food's just round the corner!' (which referred to refreshments at the foot of the hill). After about one and a half hours their son came into view and to their joy stopped to greet them affectionately and share a word. Now it became clear why they were the only couple on the high street giving applause!
I wondered if their enthusiasm would be less once their son was on his way. Not a bit of it. They continued their encouragement right to the end. And for a time I joined in. I noticed how nearly every cyclist returned the greeting with a smile, sometimes a wave and even a word: 'Thanks! Cheers!' before they pedaled just that little bit faster!
That reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses that surround us in the communion of saints (Heb. 12: 1). Everyone deserves encouragement don't they?