Since I don't want a perfectly good 700 words to go to waste, I'm reposting it with a few tweaks but no updates that bring us to present day. So here's a bit of time travelling back to Austin during London 2012.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve watched 14 different sports. Right now, I’m flipping between three channels on my TV and two live feeds on my computer, and I have TV Guide, NBC Olympics, and London 2012 windows also open so I won’t miss anything. You might say I’m a fan.
My earliest Olympic memory is of fellow (eventually) Longhorn Mary-Lou Retton in ’84, but it wasn’t until ’88 that I understood that these mysterious Olympics were something special. And like everybody else, I couldn’t have been more into ’92. The Dream Team. The Unified Team. Kristi Yamaguchi and Viktor Petrenko. Dan and Dave. Janet Evans. Kim Zmeskal. It was an amazing year.
And then it got better, I thought—the IOC separated the Winter and Summer Games into different years, so we had an oh-so-short wait before the next Winter Games. I was delighted at first, but the closing ceremonies had more of a sense of finality than usual, because there were no forthcoming Summer Games. A two-year gap didn’t seem so short any longer.
In some ways, the Olympics are better than ever because each set of Games gets its own year, without the world’s attention being divided between the two. But the price for making both versions more special was that The Olympics as a whole have lost some of their mystery. The rarity and sense of occasion is diminished when the Olympic rings never vanish from Coke cans and McDonald’s wrappers. A little bit of the excitement and anticipation is lost, because it’s always an Olympic year.
But why should my post-AIM life make me think of the Olympics? In many ways, my time in Scotland was no different from anyone else’s field time: I learned. I grew. My personal horizons broadened. More importantly, my spiritual life expanded as the bounds I had placed on what God could do were dissolved again and again. But my heart broke into pieces.
There’s a gorgeous story about Dr. David Livingston, one of the pioneers of western missionaries to Africa. His compatriots in Scotland wanted to give his body a proper burial in the country of his birth, but the African people he had devoted his life to were not wild about the idea. Their ultimate solution was to send Dr. Livingston’s body back, but keep his heart. Why? “His heart belongs in Africa,” they said.
|Yes. This. Exactly.|
Maybe that’s why, even as a mere observer, I feel such an affinity with the Olympic Games: not just because of the passion and dedication of the athletes, not just because of the excitement and joy and emotion of giving one’s whole self to a single moment. It’s because despite the storms, through some horribly wrong days and because of wonderfully right ones, and in contact with many hearts and minds, the Games change, and grow, and keep striving to be better.
Don’t be afraid of scattering your heart. Don’t shy away from leaving pieces of yourself behind. It hurts when your heart breaks, but that pain is not worth comparing to the glory that awaits us at the time when we will again be made whole.