Thursday, August 14, 2008
Go for the Gold
Sister Mary Fiacre has really enjoyed this year's Olympics. She likes to watch things that are colorful and fast moving. She seemed to really enjoy the opening ceremony, which was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen, since the Virgin Mary has never appeared to me in my toast or somewhere in Teddy's fur. I doubt that Sister Mary Fiacre really understood the magnitude of 15,000 people making the show appear to be made by computers and hydraulics, since she doesn't seem to understand too much except when dinner's coming, but she didn't fall asleep until the athletes marched in.
The magnitude of 15,000 people making a show that appeared to be a computer generated extravaganza was not lost on me. I fully expect the Chinese people, now that they understand their full capabilities, to simply decide one day to form a human bridge (that will already be lit from the light suits they are wearing) and come over here and kick us out of our house. Whenever they get in the mood.
What a disciplined and determined bunch they are.
They are eclipsed only by Michael Phelps. How exciting to watch him race, although I find myself feeling sorry for the athletes that have to perform while almost completely naked, like the swimmers and the divers. That would hold me back from a career as a diver.
(That and my fear of being upside down and my fear of heights.)
Happily for us it did not hold Mr. Phelps back. He is a swimming machine. And also an eating and sleeping machine. And probably a text messaging machine, although no one is talking about that.
How did he get that way?
Our readers are having a discussion about praying for virtues:
Someday I will be loved... sooner rather than later, would be nice... but all I can do is pray for patience, right?
Maria, NEVER pray for patience! God will send you lots of things for you to practice your patience. I learned that from a nun when I was in grade school.
I was told also not to pray for patience for the same reason Katy said, but to ask for strength! I guess you could get the same response, that is, getting an opportunity to exercise that strength!
I prayed for wisdom in 7th grade, after similar advice, but the story of Solomon so deeply touched me that I just had to be like him in discernment. I wanted to be wise enough to make right choices. You wouldn't believe what my life has been like--one disaster after another has fallen upon me. Am I wiser for it? You bet!
There are four kinds of swimming strokes. All of them make sense but one. The 'freestyle' is the fastest way to swim to get anywhere, if you were to travel by swimming. The breast stroke is probably the best way to get somewhere if you have a long way to go. You could frog kick your way around the globe. And when you got tired, you could role over onto your back and do the back stroke for a while.
Then there is that nonsensical butterfly stroke. Difficult, tiring, relatively slow, goofy looking, what's the point of swimming like that?
Mr. Phelps is good at all four, even the pointless silly one. Why? Because whether he prayed for it or not, he has a sense of purpose. He wanted to be in the Olympics, he wanted to win, he wanted to beat long standing records, he wanted to be the best ever.
That plus he doesn't have normal feet. His feet are so large and wide that they function as flippers.
Pray all you want for virtues. The real question is: how many times can you come through the fire without being beaten down? Countless times as long as there is still a reason to rise. Find your purpose and the rest will follow.
What about all the athletes who didn't even get past the preliminary swim to even compete for a medal? What about those sad sacks who never even made the team? What about the person who has the dream of being the next Michael Phelps and actually does not have the physical attributes to even make a decent swimmer? Crushing.
Unless... they have a different sense of purpose: just to be called an Olympian, to teach others, to be in great shape.
You just will never be good at anything, virtue included, without practicing. Early mornings and endless laps, weight training and sit ups. Bring it on.
Just don't expect a medal.