16 stages are down. Just 5 remain. The favourite has pulled clear of the field after a stunning burst of speed on the climb to Verbier in the Swiss Alps. With the end in sight, all seems well in the world. We all know how things will play out from here.
Or do we?
The truth is, there is plenty of le tour still to run. Contador might be comfortably clear, just as was expected before the tour began. Armstrong’s age might be wearying him; Evans team might not be strong enough to challenge the dominant Astana, and the Schlecks, while strong in the mountains, probably won’t have what it takes in the final individual time trial to really push the issue.
Except that in the race, as in life, everything can change at any moment. A fall from Contador, a bold attack from one of his rivals could bring the whole race to a new place, opening up all sorts of possibilities.
It’s not over, as they rudely say, until the fat lady sings.
When we look at the church today, at its loss of numerical support, at its disconnection from the broader society or community, at the absence of young people, it’s easy to foretell the story of our inevitable future. It is easy to predict an ongoing decline, and eventual death of the church as we know it. We know the ‘backs to the wall’ story so well, and tell it so often, that the home stretch seems pretty clear to us.
Some would even say that resurrection can only come from death – and that the inevitable death of the church as we know it is exactly what’s required.
All of that may be true, or maybe not.
I think it’s about time though to rest a while from telling the story of inevitability, or predicting the obvious future, and get on with competing again. Just as I hope Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Bradley Wiggins will at le tour – creating new possibilities born of boldness and never giving in until the chequered flag falls.
Instead of spending all our time predicting and lamenting the end of the church, perhaps its time we just got on with being the church and let the home stretch take care of itself.