Something about closing ceremonies

Something about closing ceremonies


Closing ceremonies don’t really do it for me.

As I sat folding a mountain of washing on my morning off, peopled sambaed, waved flags, strutted in giant broccoli suits, and made patterns and colours that celebrated some landscape artists totally unknown to me 13,512 kilometres away. All over again I realised: I’m not much for closing ceremonies.

It’s hardly a revelation. If you offered me a ticket to a concert of showgirls twirling umbrellas as ageing singers belted out tunes I don’t know, I’d be hastily finding some more clothes to fold. It’s just not my bag.

I’m a fan of completion, though. Get me 90% into a book and, regardless of its merits, I’m reading hard for the finish line. Give me 153 garments to fold, and I’ll keep counting down from 18 until the job’s done. Give me a tray of mangoes and there’s no argument – I’m in for the long, joyous haul. Just not the long haul of a Closing Ceremony.

But the Opening Ceremony? Different story. Opening ceremonies signify the end the waiting, No matter how ordinary supermodel, how great the environmental statements being made, or how creative the means by which the flame would be lit, I was in. I’m an anticipator. And a fan of the Olympics. Good things were coming. Whether the drum roll was lame or stratospheric, it was a beginning. The start of a good thing. The fulfilment of years of training, qualifying, competing, and discipline – for some elite athletes.

August 6 had been in my diary for months. The cream was about to rise to the absolute pinnacle of their sport. Names like Usain, Mo, Michael, Simone, and Katie (Ledecki, not Chiller) were about to do what they do better than anyone else on the globe. And so, whether swimming or archery, track or table tennis, cycling or upright kayaking, I was about to see the very best of the very best take to the biggest sporting stage of all.

The feeling of waiting is not foreign to me. I feel like I’m always waiting for something. Sometimes I can name what that is, other times it’s a deeper hankering for stuff I cannot see.

Even the greatest of realised earthly anticipations are a mere foretaste of something even greater still.

I don’t think I’m alone as an anticipator. Olympics may not be your thing. It might be a milestone, event, relationship, child, job, retirement, or something else altogether. Sometimes we can’t even articulate our waiting. It’s elusive; a deep, unrequited craving for the unknown.

Some declare their living hope of a kingdom not yet fully come. We can paint a picture of this kingdom, but it’s impressionistic – perfect clarity is still down the track. For now, it’s not fully known. We’re waiting.

As CS Lewis wrote:

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Four years of waiting were over on August 6. And what I’d waited for was over this morning. It’s why the closing ceremony left me pretty cold and a little bummed. It left little incentive to endure. Because nothing starts tomorrow, and four years is a fair wait.

Perhaps it’s also why the most memorable moment of the Closing Ceremony (for me, at least), was the glimpse of what would come in Tokyo; a reminder of what’s ahead in 2020. It was a small shadow of something great.

The countdown is on. About 1400 days to go…maybe sooner for a new heaven and a new earth.

Greater things are yet to come and greater things still to be done.

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