Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feeling very Olympic

Around here, we're feeling very Olympic.  I warned V the other day that when the Games started, she could expect life to wrap around the TV--all Olympics, all the time.  With a daughter who's been living in Colorado Springs for the last eight months, working for the USA wrestling, which is part of the United States Olympic Committee, we're pretty invested in these games.  However, truth be told, we're fans of the Olympics, anyway. We watch sports we wouldn't even dream of watching otherwise, just because a medal is on the line.  We'll watch wrestling, of course, even though I've never been a fan of sweaty bodies pounding around on a mat, because E has kept us up to date on the stories behind the matches.  But beach volleyball, women's weight-lifting, single-shell rowing, white-water kayaking--yep, we're in.  And when the big ticket sports come on--the Redeem Team trying to recapture gold in men's basketball, Michael Phelps swimming for eight (the hoarder!), the men's gymnastic team without the Hamm brothers--these make us stop whatever we're doing and settle in for the vicarious ride of our lives.

Friday night, we were like a United Nations of Olympics watching.  Of course, Beve, SK, J and I were sitting there--about as American as they come. Beve is half Norwegian so always looks for his country-folk in the parade of nations, though he's only visited the homeland one time, and that as a tourist.  But with us was V, and she got very interested when any African nation walked into the stadium.  Her own country of Zaire had no team, but others--Guinea, where her little sister's dad is from, the Central African Republic, where she lived in a refugee camp for eight months before moving to Seattle, Senegal, the homeland of one of her closest friends--and all the others are personal to V.  And we've had visiting for the week-end LB and Sam.  LB is a former student of the Beve's who has stayed with us many times.  LB and Sam are Chinese, from Hong Cong.  Though not part of the People's Republic of China, they understand both the language and the culture.  It is their own, after all.  Watching the opening ceremonies with them was enlightening and refreshing.  They are proud but honest about China, translated the words and cultural references for us as we watched. For example, they explained how the nations were lined up to walk into the stadium--determined by the strokes of the pen in the first character of the name.  I loved it.  It was a profound experience to share the opening ceremony with them.

And we've watched a whole lot of opening ceremonies over the years.  A whole lot!  And Friday night we gathered extra chairs in our family room to accommodate all of us here to gaze at the pagentry.  And it was worth the price of admission.  I've never seen anything like it, really.  15,000 people creating that art.  Of course, if China has anything it has people, so it shouldn't be surprising that people was the mode used.  Not computers, not structures, but people.  Did you see it?  Those people with lights on their suits making doves, the bird's nest itself, the globe around which people on wires ran--some of them sideways and upside-down.  But for me, the most amazing part was the series of boxes that went up and down to form graphic designs, waves like the sea and Chinese characters.  I honestly thought that had to have been done mechanically, until the lids of the boxes were flipped and the people inside waved enthusiastically.  Spectacular.  That one section of the ceremony had been practiced everyday for four months, and that night was the only time it worked perfectly!  As I say, spectacular.

It was a great picture of what the Body of Christ could be like.  If we all work together we can create great works of the Kingdom--works of beauty and power.  One person moving a box up and down on that stage, might look--well, like a person moving a box around over his head. And one person in a lycra suit covered with blinking lights would be an interesting dance, but not nearly as moving as 2008 people dancing together. Only in the sychronicity of many people working together that such a profound visible effect was created. And so it is in the Body of Christ.  One of us can move boxes around, even touch people's lives, but we need each other to make a profound impact.  We are told this over and over in scripture.  "The eye can't say to the hand, 'I don't need you."  And those people were all moving under the direction of one man, the artistic director who had the vision of the whole event.  One director, in charge of all those people, getting them to respond.  It was their job to follow his vision, not to step out of place, or think of their own autonomy.  That's exactly what we are called to do in the Kingdom.  It's not our vision that we follow, but His.  We're under the direction of the Holy Spirit, responsible to do our part, stand on our mark, and follow.  We're given tools (boxes, lights) to do what we're asked, but we must obey His orders.  Profound, huh?  Simply follow and stand on your mark.

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