Those of us of a certain age are increasingly aware of the ways in which our bodies don’t work as well as they once did. Our age related aches and pains, some loss of stamina, and issues of agility and flexibility keep cropping up to remind us of the toll succeeding years extract from us. Then, every four years the Olympics opens and shows us once again how truly “fearfully and wonderfully made” we all are. The youth of the world, despite pandemic, have gathered in Tokyo running, spinning, twirling, lifting, swimming and diving in ways that defy the law of gravity and thrill the audience. I admit to being entirely sentimental about the Olympics and what they represent. Even with this year’s empty stadiums and arenas there is a palpable excitement as young people stretch the bounds of physical possibility, setting new records going higher, faster and stronger.
Olympic level athletes have surely maximized the potential of the human body, yet we can and must recognize the marvel of human anatomy that makes such achievement possible. Even while watching events I barely understand (dressage, skeet shooting, etc.) I marvel at the skill and discipline honed by years of training and practice. There is something uplifting in both the summer and winter Olympics with human achievement and good sportsmanship on display. The young people of so many nations engaging one another in the common language of sport gives me hope for better international relationships.
This year the athletes’ mental health as well as their physical prowess gained world attention. I welcome this focus on the ways in which body, mind, and spirit must be in sync to enable the best and fullest integration of the individual. The Psalmist does well to remind us of the Creator’s great care in “knitting us together”. What is good for world class athletes is good for us as well . When the pressure is too great, the burden too heavy or the struggle too acute we, too, must step back, rest and reflect. In watching the Olympics there are lots of things to learn, and not all of them are about sports. Enjoy both the sports and the life lessons available during this Olympiad.
Yours for the journey,