This is the motto of the Special Olympics, whom we will be hosting next week for a day long track meet. It is also wisdom for life, because it points to a universal human truth.
Being brave in the attempt is the win.
On tv and other media, we celebrate Michael Phelps, perhaps one of the most decorated Olympians in history. His physical prowess and psychological strength is admirable and unmatched. We love a winner.
At Special Olympics, we celebrate the runners who went back in the middle of a race, gathered up and comforted a competitor who had tripped and fell, and crossed the line all together, holding hands. We see ourselves fallen and discouraged, and we see who we could be, brave and compassionate enough to care for all, together. Love wins.
May each of our small attempts
We get a beautiful fun day, full of surprise and challenge. We get new connections and new capacity out of this day, which light up our brains and our hearts with joy. And in all this gift, we get the voice of God, speaking to us in whatever trials and races we have to run in our lives, saying, "I am with you. You don't run alone."
St Paul, at the end of his life, said, "I have run the race to the end." He lived and interacted in a culture which loved the Olympics, one of the oldest games we have. St Paul had no idea that the churches he loved would thrive and grow instead of getting stamped out. He had no idea his letters would strengthen every Christian who ever lived, as a part of Sacred Scripture. When he said those words, he was waiting, perhaps for years, for a cold steel sword to separate his head from his body. While on death row, he did not say, "I have won the race," and we would agree.
But his life echoes the Special Olympics motto. St Paul was brave in the attempt.
Where are you at with your race? Are you laughing with the sun on your face and the wind at your back? Or are you on the ground, trying to find the courage to get back up?
Finding joy in the brave attempts of special athletes strengthens them and it strengthens each of us. This is how God comes into our lives, it's as simple as that.
After special Olympics, we will run towards the end of this school year, maybe the end of high school, and onwards. Sometimes we will win races. Sometimes we will finish them.
But if we want to live fully, we will watch and celebrate on May 24th, allowing our hearts to get a little bit braver in the attempt.
Let us pray.
You said you would always be with us.
In the race of life,
show us your spirit of encouragement, hope and joy,
through the brave attempts and the loving compassion
of your brothers and sisters for each other.
Bless all those gathering for Special Olympics,
keep them safe and happy.
May each of our small attempts be brave and faithful,
whether or not we win.
And when we finish our race,
welcome us into a unending celebration
together with you and all our Holy ancestors.
We ask this in your name, who live and reign
with the Father and the Spirit, one God, for ever and ever,
St Kateri, pray for us