In the aftermath of the games
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In the aftermath of the games

In recent years and, even more so in recent months, the build-up to this sporting program extravaganza has proved to be all-absorbing not only for the athletes, but also the organisers and the officials. And let us not forget that marvelous host of ever-attentive, ever-obliging volunteers who added a warm and friendly atmosphere to all that took place.

In some ways it is difficult to believe that an event which took centre stage over those long months of preparation and that captivated our total attention during the eleven days of its presentation has now faded into history. Nevertheless it has, and all we are left with now are our memories, and a sense of gratitude to all responsible.

Our memories will inevitably be greatly coloured by the degree to which each of us chose to get involved. Whether we were physically present at one or more of the various venues or whether we were glued to our television sets to keep an eye on the competitors will have played an important role in the formation of our memories. Hopefully, you were more than a mere spectator. Hopefully, too, you benefited in some way from whatever involvement you had. If you chose to open yourself to the impact that the athletes had on you I’m sure you would have been greatly enriched by the overall experience.

For me there was an endless stream of factors that spoke loudly about the benefits I derived. Time and again I was impressed, for instance, by the single-minded commitment of the participants not only to achieving gold, but to giving of their personal best.     Interestingly, their dedication reminded me of the challenging words of St Paul to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.” (1 Cor. 9:24) Sometimes we might find it difficult to get motivated to commit ourselves to attaining spiritual objectives. Hopefully, in situations like that, we can be inspired in our efforts by the example of those athletes who took part in these recent Commonwealth Games.

There were countless other ways in which these Games enriched me: from the fascination and excitement of the Opening Ceremony to the informality and friendliness of the Closing Ceremony, but I’d like to highlight just one, and that was the sense of joyfulness that pervaded the various contests. Sports-personship can be pretty tough, especially when you’ve not won a medal, but a genuine willingness to congratulate those who had was commonplace at these Games, and that inspired me greatly.

Somehow a pervading sense of gratitude and joyfulness was summed-up superbly for me in one special magic moment: when the gold medal winner of the women’s marathon, during her lap of honour, went across to her husband and children to share her joy with them, and then took her young son on a triumphant jog with her, a moment that will surely be indelibly marked on his impressionable mind for the rest of his days. So, though the XVIIIth Commonwealth Games will gradually fade into history, I cherish the hope that their impact will remain with us for a very long time, and that you and I will choose to go on indefinitely utilising the varied fruits that we have derived from them in the many facets of our journey of life and faith as it opens up for us in the years ahead. ¢

As broadcast during The Family Counsellor program over
Radio Sport 927 on Sunday, 23 April, 2006.

Fr Gerard Dowling OAM is Spiritual Director of Centacare Catholic Family Services, Melbourne and Dean Emeritus.
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