Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Swell of National Pride

We’ve gotten really into watching the Olympics, Curling in particular. An interesting sport, something like a cross between Shuffleboard and chess, they slide granite stones down sheets of ice to a target. One person throws the stone; two people brush the ice in front of the stone to cause the stone to move more quickly or to direct it’s path a bit. A fourth person stands near the target giving direction. It’s a strategically, and physically challenging sport. The American teams didn’t have a good showing, but the Canadians are hot! This is their sport.

The other day they were in a heated match with Great Britain. The Canadians were down going into the last end. They were even heard over the microphones saying… “We’re dead” The home town crowd was loudly encouraging them and finally when the Canadian curlers were at THE moment, where they needed to place the stone in perfectly the crowd spontaneously sang, a few and quietly at first… “Oh Canada! Our home and native land…” Then as one voice they stood, all of them and sang proudly “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land, glorious and free! Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee! Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee!” The swell of the music was only topped by the swell of their pride and emotion.

The younger curler looked at the old man of the team who was readying his shot and asked “Have you ever seen anything like this?” The older man visibly moved shook his head. The clock was ticking yet he waited until the crowd was finished singing. The crowd stood silent, holding their breath waiting to see if their team could pull off the miracle shot. Quietly the curler crouched down, eyed his mark, paused(you could’ve heard a pin drop the arena was so still and silent)and then with skilled experience he began to move forward. With his eyes fixed on the exact spot he wanted the rock to land he slid forward and released that rock with smooth precision. The crowd, the watching T.V. audience, both teams, watched as the rock, seemingly in slow motion, buoyed by the hopes of a nation, slid into perfect position, knocking out the opposing rocks and coming to rest in exactly the spot that it needed to, to save the day for the Canadians. The crowd let out a sigh of relief and then went wild. The T.V. announcer exclaimed excitedly and the team embraced in emotional relief and awe. That one moment of unbridled patriotism and hope inspired a curler to dig deep and come through in a big way when he needed to most. It was something to watch. J.

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