For as long as I can remember I've loved watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. My favourite part is always the parade of athletes. I look for the happy, excited faces of those athletes for whom this may be their first time at the games. They stand out like a sore thumb. All teeth and dancing. I have to be ready when the ceremony gets close to the parade of athletes since Canada comes so early in the alphabet.
Unfortunately, I missed the whole ceremony this year. What I mean to say is that I missed the live coverage due to the time difference between us and London, England. It was still great to watch the time-delayed coverage but I missed that feeling of 'being there'. That is until the British military personnel marched the Union Jack up the meadow (created specially for the event) and raised the flag. I teared up.
During the parade of athletes there was a woman carrying what looked like a large, copper lily for each country. As each team took their spot, the lily was set in place on a large carousel laying flat on the stage. I was curious. Once the host country came out and the final lily was placed, I realized that each flower was part of the base of the Olympic flame. A group of young athletes, dubbed 'future Olympians', ran up and lit several lilies.
Then the most amazing thing happened, the flowers rose into the air, supported by long, thin metal stalks. They met at the top and formed a large, flaming bowl. It was spectacular.
Perhaps for the first time I 'got' the significance of the flame. It is the singular desire to excel in a competition of physical endurance or superiority....for...one's.....country!
I am proud of our athletes and I am proud of their effort. But I am most proud that a small portion of that flame IS Canada. May the flame ignite your competitive spirit today in a way that doesn't belittle the efforts of others but raises us all up in a united show of pride and honour.