Friday, September 27, 2013

Brave in the Attempt

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt."
~Special Olympics Athlete Oath

I've tried several times this week to sit and write my thoughts on the Special Olympics Equestrian Tournament, but I'm always at a loss for words. It's just too hard to sit down and write concisely about 72 hours of hard work and beauty.

Three words come to mind when I think about the weekend: bravery, joy, gratitude. 

This weekend we helped riders of all ages, climb on the backs of beautiful beasts. Twelve hundred pounds of conceded power and might, often bearing 90 pound children who ride in a ring. Little girls and older men, they perched. Ready for this day, they were brave.

Some came home with bronze, silver, and gold. Some earned ribbons of color. They all wore joy as a prize, and they did not contain it. As officials placed ribbons upon their necks, joy was lavishly spilled for all to share. Joy isn't meant to be stored. I lapped it up in pride for them, snapping pictures through blurry eyes.

Encouraged in their bravery and privileged to share in their joy... I found myself grateful to play a small part. And small it was. I looked around at all the details that had to be met for this weekend to run. Details months in the making. From staple guns to saddle pads (you can't even imagine all the in-betweens) I watched as others in our large delegation played their parts with cheerfulness and care. I wish I could detail it all, but here are just a few: horse care and tack, scheduling, wardrobe, food, encouragement, set up and clean up. Every-little-thing, volunteers worked tirelessly, with a kindness that only comes from love.

I opened this post with the Athlete Oath. I have pondered these words all week long.  Bravery isn't about winning, its about facing difficult things, and reaping joy in the midst... if we choose to see. Being brave is often portrayed as a personal, private endeavor... this weekend I was encouraged by unconcealed, contagious, bravery and joy. I can't wait to do it again.