more than gold

Tomorrow is the final day of the Olympics, and there are at least two things to keep your eye on.  At 15.40 on Sunday, Beijing time, Hungary will play the United States for the gold medal in waterpolo.  Hungary has won 8 gold medals in the sport since 1932.

The other thing to watch is the men’s marathon at 07.30 Beijing time (01:30 Budapest time / 19.30 Saturday Virginia time).  I’ve been waiting for this for the the last two weeks (though I’ll have to just catch the highlights on youtube).  Ryan Hall is the USA hope for gold.  Though Ryan has only competed in 3 official marathons, he holds the fastest olympic qualifying time for an American.  If I remember correctly, in London recently, he ran the marathon in 2:06:17.  Whoa.  That is not far off of the world record.  But there are three Kenyons who are running the same speed right now, so Ryan will be up against the fastest group in history.

But Ryan is running for more than a gold medal.  Ryan will be running in the memory of one of his best friends, Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died at the fifth mile of the olympic trials.  Ryan also talks a lot about letting go of all of the lofty goals of running a faster time or winning first place.  He talks a lot about the joy of simply running for God.  This is what he calls being “free to run.”  You can see his training video here.

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Kobarid, Slovenia

Last week, 20 of us went to Kobarid, Slovenia to see a beautiful part of Central Europe, to have some adventure, and to enjoy some meaningful time and conversation with each other.  Our friends Stephan and Thea live in Vrsno, a small town above Kobarid and the Soca River.  Stephan and Thea showed us amazing places and enabled us to have some great adventures.

A quick overview of the week: 3 hour waterfall-hunting hike, rafting down the Soca river, cleaning/gutting and roasting fish over a fire, 7.5 hour hike to Krn mountain, jumping off of a 15 meter high bridge, a day of kayaking, searching for the Kozjak waterfall canyon at night, a half-day at Grado beach, and a wonderful final evening together in Vrsno hearing Stephan and Thea’s story.  For me, there were many “moments” and conversations that became highlights.  As one friend said, “I want to integrate these things into my life in Budapest and not stay the same.”

At the top of Krn Mountain

Launching Peaches 700 Meters Below

The Fish Gutting Team

Ready to Raft

The Leap

think through them

“My journey of faith must be personal in the sense that I struggle intellectually with issues that cut close to the heart of my identity.  As a member of the human race, a citizen of a broken world, and a follower of Jesus Christ, I can not hang up my commitments, desires, rebellions, resignations, and uncertainties like a coat on a coat rack before entering my pursuit of answers, to be taken up and put on when the work of the day is over.  How can I abstract from my commitments, desires, rebellions, resignations, and uncertainties?  I must think through them, with as much rigor as I can muster.”
– Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace

Call to Heroism

Could it be that our cultures of mistrust, cynicism, and idolatry of fame and power have caused a “crisis of heroism?”  “There are, in fact, few heroes.  We have no shortage of celebrities, but heroes are increasingly scarce.”  The phenomenon of the modern celebrity has widened the gap between fame and greatness.  In the past, heroism was connected with real achievement and profound displays of character, virtue, wisdom, athleticism, the arts, etc.  Today, we do not have many heroes, we have celebrities who are “well-known for being well-known.”  A big name rather than a big person….

Heroism is birthed from a transcendant call.  The Caller “challenges us directly to rise to our full stature as human beings.”  His call is to rise up by His grace and power and to become the people we are intended to be.  This call to inner greatness and heroic character is not a self-help scheme or a do-it-yourself project.  We are called by a “decisive divine word whose creative power is the deepest secret of the change.”
-thoughts from Os Guiness, The Call, chpt. 10.