John Huffman shares: “Vanderlei Lima went to Athens to do what no other Brazilian had ever done—win a medal in the Olympic Marathon. This race was special. The runners would retrace the 2,500-year-old route of Phidipedes, the original marathoner. When Lima neared the last leg of the race, he was in first place. Throngs of flag-waving spectators cheered him on. It was one of those moments when people of various backgrounds put their differences aside.

“The joyful celebration turned to bewilderment, however, when an eccentric spectator, a defrocked Irish priest wearing a red, white and green kilt, bolted from the crowd and tackled him. There was no injury, but the delay dashed Lima’s hopes of the gold medal, as in the ensuing chaos he lost twenty minutes, and two other runners sped by him to win the gold and the silver. This world-class athlete expressed this reaction: ‘I’m not going to cry forever about the incident, although it broke my concentration; but I managed to finish, and the bronze medal, in such a difficult marathon, is also a great achievement.’

“One can live a self-protected existence, merely surviving at life, refusing to take any risks. But one who tackles life with exuberance exposes oneself to the potential of physical and emotional suffering. As persons of all walks of life know, the very ‘entering of the arena’ exposes one to the possibility of defeat, suffering, misunderstanding and pain.” (from sermon “Strength in Suffering,”)

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