My Olympic Moment

Today I had my own Olympic moment AND I learned a key to winning: Don’t tell your competition that there IS a competition.

Scott and I rode our bikes into Edison for a snack and then back home. He led the entire way – until we came to the home stretch – the last 400 yards. Then I got it into my noggin that this was my Olympic moment – I started pedaling really fast and zoomed past Scott for the driveway. He just had time to say, “Hey!” before I surged ahead and got to the “finish line.” Yeah. It was pretty epic, as you can imagine. Thunderous applause and a standing ovation and flags waving and stuff. Well… you know… in my mind. But still… I am overcome with emotion here. Wiping the tears from my face and expecting the TV crew to appear on my doorstep at any moment. I probably should vacuum and dust. I have a paper plate that I think might make a nice medal.

Olympic flag

There were two stories that came out of the 2016 Olympics that really touched me: The first one was the story of the South African athlete, Wayde van Niekerk, who went to the Olympics to represent his nation, his mother (a gifted black athlete who hadn’t been allowed to compete outside South Africa  because of the apartheid in that country at that time), and his 74 year-old white coach, Anna Botha, who he said treated him as her own child; The second story that really touched me was the story of the two women (one from the U.S.A. and one from New Zealand) who stopped to encourage each other to keep going in the 5000 meter race after they both fell. Now, for me, those two stories are what the Olympics are all about, my friends – not proving you’re “better” than everyone else, not winning personal glory and accolades and praise – but working together, working for each other, competing for something or someone other than your own ego.

The Olympic athletes inspired me – not just the ones who won the medals – but every athlete who gave her or his best, who showed heart, who displayed kindness and courage.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Eagle in Flight (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
– Isaiah 40: 31

(The image of the Olympic flag can be found at this URL:
http://www.pe04.com/olympic/trivia/flag_t.php)

Competition: “Striving together” for Good

…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40: 31

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Did you know that the word “competition” actually comes from the Latin word, “competere” – which means to “strive together”? Instead of looking at a competition as a battle between individuals, we might see in competition individuals who are all striving together towards a common goal – who share the same aspiration. I think that’s kind of cool.

You’ve probably heard the story of Luz Long and Jesse Owens and their competition in the long jump at the 1936 Olympics. I think Jesse and Luz give us a wonderful example of what a competition between two world-class athletes should look like…

Luz was competing in the Olympics for the German team, Jesse was competing for the American team. Jesse, an African-American, had embarrassed Hitler when he’d won the 100 meter race, beating out members of Hitler’s “master race” to win the gold medal.  The next day he was close to getting disqualified in the long jump competition, after fouling on his first two jumps. This is when Luz Long introduced himself to Jesse, and suggested Jesse make his third (and final) attempt two inches before the takeoff board. Owens followed Long’s advice and qualified for the competition. By the end of the day, the competition had come down to a match between Jesse and Luz. On his last jump, Jesse won the gold medal. In spite of Hitler’s disapproval, Luz was the first to congratulate Jesse. Of Long, Owens said, “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace. The sad part of the story is I never saw Long again. He was killed in World War II.” (http://www.sportsfeelgoodstories.com/2009/04/14/jesse-owens-and-luz-long-%E2%80%94-olympic-heroes-1936/)

Long and Owens are still remembered and honored some 70 years later – not because they were the two “best” long jumpers in 1936 – but because of the class, humanity, and nobility they both expressed that day.

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As I watch the 2012 Olympics, I see a lot of world-class good being expressed – and the good I see being expressed isn’t just limited to the athletes who “win.” In fact, it isn’t limited to the athletes at all. I see love and joy being expressed by the people who cheer the athletes on. I see generosity and self-sacrifice in the support the athletes’ loved ones give to them. I see intelligence and wisdom expressed by the people behind-the-scenes who organize and maintain the event. I see beauty and grace and coordination expressed everywhere at the Olympics – and it’s not just the athletes who are expressing those things.

The Olympics provide a wonderful opportunity to “competere” – to “strive together” to express fully the beauty, grace, strength, generosity, and kindness of Love, God.

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““Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud. All the varied expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality – infinite Life, Truth, and Love.” –

from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

“Take my feet, and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.”

— Christian Science Hymn, #324