Light at the Pyeongchang Olympics

Yesterday I had the chance to attend the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where I watched the women’s hockey team of Korea, comprised of players from both North and South Korea, face-off with Switzerland. The women’s team wore a jersey that had a blue Korean peninsula — unified as one —on its front and just a month earlier, announced that players would come from both South Korea and North Korea.

Keenly aware of global tensions in the region and looking back to an earlier post, I hoped that the game and the Olympics could be the opening for something better and the chance to be truly Global, to be Light and to be Vision.

The game moved quickly with Switzerland driving forward and controlling the pace of the game with deft skating and puck movement. At the same time, the Korean team played with passion and conviction down to the very last moment of the third period; fans rooted for them whole-heartedly in each hockey puck chase; and the cheering teams from North Korea sang songs of encouragement as they waved the unification flag.

The score of the game finished as 8-0 for Switzerland. A part of me that wished there could have been just one goal for the Korean team and packed arena to celebrate. Yet I knew that the score was perfect in its own way and there was something greater at play. Across the arena from where I was seated, I spent different moments of the game watching President Moon Jae-In of South Korea and the delegation from North Korea. I saw them looking on from their seats and clapping for the unified Korea team.

I could see and feel the toil and tire on the Korean player’s faces and there was something inside of me – along with many others – that stood behind the bench long after the game was over. We kept cheering, I shouted the best encouragement I knew of for a hockey game (“Great work!”) and I also found out that the cheering team from North Korea sang him nae ra, meaning “cheer up”. As the players gathered with their coaches in a meeting, a trail of photographers and suited folks streamed into the area. The South Korean and North Korean delegations had walked to the team’s bench from across the arena. While the players stood on the ice, the collective delegation clapped for them, shared words of encouragement, shook their hands, and took a picture together.

I will remember this opportunity as a moment of light. Whatever the circumstances around us or in the world and however long it may last, it is always possible to create this: a spark, a flash, and a beacon for that which could be greater.

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