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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mountain Top Experience

The Bible stories for this past Sunday were about encounters with God on a mountain-top. During my sermon I made an extemporaneous reference to a moment in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Viewers saw the snow-boarder Johnny Lyall on the very peak of a mountain, preparing for his exhilarating ride down. The panorama around the lone, daring figure, of a clear blue sky, pierced by the craggy peaks of other Rocky Mountains was breath-taking. I imagined myself in this young man's place. There is no way I could negotiate my way down that mountain as he did. I found myself wondering, "How'd he get up there?"

You can watch the snowboarding portion of the video of the opening ceremonies online at The images are captivating. It is easy to think only about the amazing athlete who bursts through the Olympic rings in BC Place, after the crowd has just watched the mountain descent on the big screen.

It took a helicopter to bring the young boarder to that height. Helicopters were also used in capturing the video of his descent. Each helicopter would require a pilot, and a camera person. Each helicopter also has to be maintained for safety. The raw video footage would have to be edited. The sound track would have to be added in.

I began wondering how many souls were part of the crew that made this amazing mountain-top adventure possible, and then made it available for us to watch it. My research led me to, which reports that Johnny Lyall “and pro riders Shin Campos, David Aubry and Benji Ritchie provided the action for the segment edited to look like one rider.”

So this “mountain-top” experience was anything but a solitary effort. Does this make it any more amazing? I choose to look at this as another sign that we need each other, and that together we can do incredible things.

I remember reading once that even religious hermits, like the monk and scholar Thomas Merton, who lived for many years lived a solitary life in a small cottage on the grounds of a monastery, need the spiritual and physical support of a community in order to thrive.