Life, Death & the Olympics

The Olympics opening ceremonies were broadcast tonight from Vancouver. Colorful, musical, international of course, and also proudly Canadian.
I came to them from visiting two friends living with uncertainty and illness. One is a monk, a brother, hospitalized for four weeks now. He was beaming with joy, even as he expressed freely the full range of his feelings as he faces massive changes in his life due to the limitations imposed by illness.

A second friend, husband and father, sits quietly among his loved ones, doctors trying to discern what has affected so quickly and massively his ability . . . to actively live.

A third friend, a US postal worker and a valued minister to youth and of parish spirituality, died today after a brave, confident struggle with lung cancer. He knew and loved many – and they him. He was at Mass even this past Sunday. Paul, good man and friend of Jesus, rest in peace!

And then at the end of the day, the pageantry of the 21st Olympiad’s opening ceremony celebrates for me the human spirit present in these three friends. The ceremonies included a moment of silence for the 21 year old Georgian athelete who tragically was killed there earlier today. For me that moment paid tribute also to my three friends whose lives has crossed mine with love and pain this day.

How does the saying go? “Oh, the humanity!”. At this moment those words make sense to me. Oh the length and breadth, the bravery, the faithfulness and constancy, oh the greatness of the human spirit.

We live. We die. We strive for the best. And in the striving lies our personal best, and our hope in God.