Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics: What Did They Show Us?

The Olympics are over.

Here in the U.S.A., it was fun to get up in the morning and turn on the television to watch people from all over the world compete in a wide variety of sports.

The girls, of course, were especially captivated by the gymnastics. For a few weeks we may have several amateur gymnasts romping around the house, adapting the furniture to their routines. After the 2008 Olympics, Lucia turned the couch into a trampoline (they're not supposed to jump on the couch!) and almost went flying through the front window, shattering completely one of the glass panes (no one was hurt, thank God).

Of course, we also enjoyed the swimming, the diving (everybody loves synchronized diving), the sprints and the distance runners, the field events, archery, some of the more unfamiliar sports like water polo and handball, as well as the standards like volleyball, basketball, tennis, etc. (there was no baseball this time, which is a crime that must be rectified).

But the highlight of the entire Olympics, for our family, was (of course) Team U.S.A.'s gold medal in Women's Soccer. After last year's epic World Cup, with all its heroics and the brave but heartbreaking loss to Japan in the final (see last year's blog), we were ready to see "our girls" take the pitch once again.

They seemed like old friends: Abby and Hope and Alex and Carli and Meghan and everyone. And they did it again. With grit, relentless energy, and their never-give-up team spirit, they thrilled us, amazed us, and put us through the agonizing suspense of close matches and dramatic finales. And then, finally, they won the gold. Our American women were champions!

And they really were...indeed all the many participants in the various sports, within their defined courts or fields, gave a display of excellence, and those who won showed us what it means to be the best. In our rejoicing in victory or our sorrow in defeat, we could not help acknowledging that "goodness" is objective and real, and that human beings strive to attain it.

We cheer our athletes, who build something beautiful and awesome by the arduous work of developing their talents, strength, and skill. This requires intense training, total focus and dedication, and lots and lots of sacrifice. Here, people in our culture today can clearly see the value of submitting to an objective discipline. People see the value of sacrifice. They are stirred to the experience of a kind of wonder.

But things of deeper beauty are not so evident. People don't see these things, and so they don't even understand why they are worthy of seeking, of effort, of sacrifice.

It is here that we must aspire to be champions. We must take the "field" of each day, and keep working hard and making sacrifices in order to live lives of deep beauty, so as to make truth and love shine in the world.

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