In the Olympics, an athlete with significant achievements and milestones is allowed to be the last runner in the torch relay and given the honor of lighting the Olympic Cauldron. On occasion, the people chosen to light the Cauldron are not dignitaries, cultural figures, or famous at all. Their invited participation, nevertheless, symbolizes Olympic ideals.
The torch is seen by millions as it makes its journey through thousands of miles. It carries the flame, the very essence of the Olympic games. Huge crowds turn out to cheer the start of the torch relay. Astonishing spirit from tens of thousands is sensed around the torch convoy. There is, however, a marked difference between the torchbearers and the spectators. Spectators are unaware that the design of the torch often makes it a heavy carry for the runner. They are unaware that sometimes the torch must be carried across water and only a skilled diver is able to hold aloft. They are completely unaware of how long the relay journey can be. All they will remember is how bright and spectacular the flame glowed through the routes and how it made its triumphant entry into an opening ceremony.
Over the course of the route, it is not uncommon for the flame to be accidentally extinguished during the relay. Sometimes – even deliberately. Many factors can and often contribute to the sudden black out. Gusts of wind, torrential rain, repeated below-zero measures, and the cries of protesters are a constant threat – not to the relay itself, but to the torch.
Every so often, just like in The Olympics, our lives are marked by “memorable extinguishings.” Long passageways inevitably create wind tunnels and no matter what we do – the impending glitch occurs. The honor we felt as torchbearers – chosen among hundreds of athletes – quickly transitions into an eternal moment of self-consciousness and awkward experience. At this trivial point, the runner meets the spectator once again. Except no longer a spectator – now a caretaker, a flame protector. Vision is impaired for only a moment – until someone from the crowd shares the flame. You see, redemption is near when a close observation of a lit candle is made. It reflects two flames. The yellow one – highly visible, tall and glowing and the blue – much smaller, hotter, closer to the candle itself. The former is prone to the extinguish because it is readily exposed. The latter is protected, hidden, for it lies closer to the candle. When both are abruptly extinguished, the flame of dreams moves through caretakers around and among us as we are charged to carry the torch with high regard.
Should the journey threaten to extinguish the flame – do not be discouraged. Been-couraged. The torch is simply re-lit by caretakers around you and itwillcarry on. For unbeknownst to you, the flame itself – the blue one - remains preserved – safely encased inside your heart.
Dedicated to Torchbearers