Inspiration comes in many forms. The love of sport and the nurturing of ability can have surprising results.
The other night my husband, Ryan, and I received an invitation to go and watch the rugby world cup at a friend's house. We battled about the rugby portion, because neither of us gets too excited about sports usually, but hanging out with friends and eating burritos sounded great enough. Before we could swallow our dinner, the kids screamed from the TV room that the game had begun...
Because the stakes were so high, Ryan and I got into the game pretty quickly. After all, this was the world cup and we were playing England! Normally I'd advocate against nationalistic feelings taking over our sense of love for humanity, but that night I was quite happy to root for South Africa for more than one reason :-). But as the game advanced, one of the reasons overshadowed all others: the necessity of South Africa uniting for one common goal. All over the nation, people were following the game in front of the TV sets, in bars, restaurants, on the streets and it didn't matter weather you were black, white, colored, purple or blue, we all rooted for our country and it was an amazingly unifying experience for a country that was painfully divided for so long!
The players teared up as they sang our beautifully diverse national anthem in three of South Africa's 11 official languages – mirroring millions of South Africans who did the same back home.
After an exciting game during which both sides played out their hearts, I admit that I felt bad for the losing team; our world operates on a system where one man's victory is another man's loss. But the victory that South Africa achieved that night was one that unified hundreds of tribal, racial, social and religious groups and that was worth every bit of it.
A lot of people mention the fact that the South African rugby team is mostly made up of white Afrikaaner players. My guess is that in rugby size is quite important, and you just don't find that many large men in South Africa other than in the Afrikaaner community. Another is probably opportunity. But it turned out beautifully, because the most meaningful moment was when this predominantly white team picked up their black President on their shoulders so he could hold up the South African trophy! It was meaningful on so many levels and it caused a ripple of cheers and emotions across the nation and beyond its borders.
The South African team remembered God in prayer after the game, and Ryan and I left our friend's house honking all the way home. The streets were filled with South African who randomly hugged, cheered, smiled and shared the victory. This was a meaningful feat and transcended sports in so many ways.
Blessed the day when the whole world may celebrate its unity with such fervor.