Current news stories report that some Olympic athletes don’t want their families to travel to Sochi, where the Games will begin Feb. 7, because of fears of terrorism. I remember the same sentiment looming over the start of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, near where I live.
At the time, the horror of Sept. 11 hovered in everyone’s mind. Even the local police chief, now retired, told me he wished “they’d just cancel the Olympics.” When I shared that comment with fellow Christian Scientists, we decided that one thing we could do was to help allay fear. We asked a Christian Science lecturer to come to Utah to talk with us about safety at the Olympics. In a talk delivered one night, he assured us that God, divine Love, was here and everywhere, guiding and guarding everyone’s actions, and that it was important to hold onto that spiritual fact. We each began to feel a sense of safety.
What we learned that night was that getting rid of fear in our own thought was an important first step to take before hoping and praying that others at the Olympic events would also be fearless and safe. I also decided to contribute to the Christian Science periodicals as a way of inviting the entire worldwide readership to prayerfully address safety concerns at the Olympics.
My article, “Then and now: a focus beyond gold medals” (Christian Science Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2002), stemmed from a heartfelt question: “What can I do to make sure the upcoming Olympics is successful? The answer: Pray.” I’m sure many people were praying about those Games, which were touted as being among the safest ever.
Today, praying about any fear connected to the Olympics in Russia is something that anyone, anywhere can do for the athletes, their families, Olympic organizers, security advisers, and all involved with this enormous event. Our prayers can affirm and uphold the historic nature of these Games as a worldwide opportunity to recognize the infinite ways in which all men and women reflect God, and to rejoice in the successes that come from expressing spiritual qualities such as strength and poise.
What’s our role in the 2014 Winter Olympics, whether we’re in Sochi or at home? Instead of accepting fear and terrorism as inevitable, we can insist in our prayers that God’s embracing goodness – along with all the spiritual qualities that He imparts – is a powerful, peaceful, presence. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explained how taking on this task of “spiritual monitoring” blesses humanity: “The spiritual monitor understood is coincidence of the divine with the human, the acme of Christian Science. Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring to earth a foretaste of heaven. They unite terrestrial and celestial joys, and crown them with blessings infinite” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 100).
Anyone will benefit by taking time to pray for a successful and joy-filled Olympics.