Mining Olympic Gold
The latest World Vision magazine came last week, with a vulnerable child on the cover, over the title “Comfort in CRISIS”. I cringe a little each time I look at it, and truthfully, I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to read it yet.
In contrast, the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics was Friday evening. I had almost no interest this year in the Games, and could not have told you even 3 days earlier what day the Games would start. Yet I ended up watching almost every moment of the Opening’s compellingly gorgeous display of stylized Chinese culture (admittedly mixed with a hefty dose of propaganda). Even the long procession of national teams arrayed in nationally-appropriate clothing was hard not to watch.
Here was God’s diversity on display, a sumptuous banquet of international brotherhood, youthful vigor, and excellence. A pinnacle of humanity and mankind’s achievement.
I’m now recording much of the coverage, yet still wondering what thrills I’m missing each day. And this from someone who had read almost nothing beforehand about the coming Games nor had any intention to pay attention to them.
As soon as we flipped on the opening ceremony, it was as Renee Zellwegger admits in the movie Jerry McGuire, “You had me at ‘hello'”.
There is something invitational about the Olympics, in contrast to what I felt about the WV magazine. One is like a book titled “Good News”, the other titled “Bad News”.
At times it takes courage to pick up “Bad News” and read it. Kay Warren did that 5 years ago from a Time magazine article about AIDS, and her entire life’s trajectory was changed ever since. Now the current issue of Time has Kay’s husband Rick on the cover: a story featuring the church’s work in Rwanda, and much of that focus came out of Kay’s passion around HIV and AIDS. “Bad News” has that power, if we’re willing to open ourselves to it.
Lately, I haven’t felt much courage; yet I’ve been enjoying my work more, which is nice to report! But I also realize (a bit ashamedly) that’s in part because I’m working on some special projects behind the ‘frontlines’. A “special task force” is more my temperament these days than a prayer circle or a “weep for those who weep” gathering.
Every soldier needs some time off the frontline, and I’m appreciating the break. I’m also appreciating the chance to focus on the Olympics, on some of what is best about our global family, even with its backdrop of political repression and the sudden “where in the world did that come from” conflict in former Soviet Georgia (to which World Vision is already responding).
Truth be told, I’m hardly leaving the frontline; I’m actually taking on an additional role of team leader for our SoCal team. Deploying team members and thinking more broadly will be mixed in with my continued personal donor development efforts. So actually, more is on my plate, yet I’m excited about it.
But these Summer Games are a nice reminder to me right now of what our world can do: we can celebrate humanity, we can get along—if only to compete, we can celebrate the drama of the athlete who beats the odds and their personal demons, we can be patriotic without being xenophobic.
Yes, there is always a dark backdrop. But sometimes it’s nice to simply enjoy looking at the glass half-full, celebrate and lift it high, and enjoy its bouquet as a foretaste of a kingdom without end, of peace on earth and goodwill toward all.
Enjoying that new wine is good for the soul—and restores my courage.