Jennifer and I really enjoyed watching the Olympics together. We were happy when the format changed to alternating winter and summer Olympics because this meant we didn’t have to wait four years in between. It wasn’t so much the sports themselves, though we did love watching Micheal Phelps leave the world in his wake and Misty May and Kerri Walsh dominate the sand year after year. But in addition to witnessing all of these people at peak performance, it is the spirit and over all feeling of the Olympics that we looked forward to and enjoyed. The bringing together of people from all over the world to cheer together, to feel compassion together, to hope together, to expect and witness the best we can be together. It’s like getting a glimpse of what peace might be like.
On Jennifer’s birthday in 2012 I mentioned that she had fallen in love Paris and had begun to plan a trip that she ended up unable to take. I also mentioned a print of “St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris”. This past June, Little J and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation on the south western coast of France. On our way home, we took that trip to Paris. (How could we not?)
As it turned out, the actual painting of St. Genevieve was just a few blocks way from where we stayed, painted on the wall of the Pantheon. Little J recognized it right away as the painting from our living room and asked who she was.
I explained how when attackers were coming to destroy Paris, Genevieve led the fearful citizens in a prayer vigil that managed to turn the attackers away and saved the city. That through her instruction and example she led people to be more virtuous.
Last night as I was tucking Little J in for the night he said, “Dad, when I pray for things they come true. Like, I prayed not to have nightmares last night and I didn’t. And my first night of Boy Scout camp I prayed to be able to fall asleep and I did. I just pray and ask mom to watch over me, and she does.”
I thought of all of this last night as I sat up watching Kerri Walsh Jennings handily moving toward her 4th Gold Medal wearing her genuine smile and insisting on thanking and shaking hands with everybody on court. Thought of what James had just said, thought of Paris and of Genevieve. I could feel Jennifer’s big smile. I thought of how blissfully thin the veil between heaven and earth can be.
Happy Birthday Jennifer. I love you. You are with us always.