Tonight the Rio Olympics come to a close after two weeks of international competition and physical and mental accomplishments. I watched a great deal of the events over these two weeks, and was distressed by some bad behavior but inspired by even greater sportsmanship and cooperation. Our swimmers, our young women gymnasts, the medal winners were wonderful to watch, even if there were heart stopping moments. Enfleshing the Olympic Spirit was the scene of the women runners who collided and fell, with the one helping the other, injured one, to finish the race.
These two weeks brought back memories, for twenty years ago I had the good fortune to attend the second week of the summer Atlanta Olympics. Good friends, Mary Ann and Bill Newhouse and their children invited me to join them for the trip to Atlanta. We stayed with friends of theirs just outside the city, were able to attend a number of events - track and field, women's volleyball and a baseball game - tour Atlanta, and have an enjoyable time. It was an experience that I will not duplicate in my life, and I cherish the memories with gratitude.
We were also encouraged in the Scriptures of these last few weeks to see the Olympic spirit as an image of our personal journey of faith. Paul last Sunday spoke of persevering in running the race, of keeping before our eyes the goal, the prize - not a medal of gold or silver or bronze or a wreath of garland - our relationship to Jesus Christ and a crown of eternal glory. This week we were encouraged in the opening prayer at liturgy to be single minded in our purpose and to seek after that which the Lord promises us as our destiny.
The Olympics can remind us not only of the greatness of nations and their athletes, not only of attaining fame and prestige, but most importantly of the need to focus on what is most important in life, and to strive unceasingly to attain that goal of oneness with the Lord that brings with it eternal glory.