The Grand Finals in both the AFL and NRL delivered nail-biting thrillers that kept us on the edge of our seats until the final whistle with the local heroes taking home the prize in both codes (Collingwood winning by 4 points over Brisbane in the AFL; Penrith winning by 2 points over Brisbane in the NRL). It was fantastic to see the Knights take out back-to-back NRLW Grand Finals! (Newcastle beating Gold Coast 24-18).
There is something about Grand Final weekend that captures our nation, regardless of how much sport we follow through the year: the support of local teams, the cheering fans, the packed stadiums, the spectacle of human endeavour, the triumphs and the tribulations. One cannot help but be drawn into the celebrations, whether live at the games, or gathered with friends and family in living rooms everywhere.
There is something about the physicality of sport that attracts us, individually and communally. The interplay of movement, strength and dexterity taps into what it means to be alive. For thousands of years the physical capabilities of people have ensured ongoing survival. Today, our bodies are still the means by which we move, work, cultivate, and build. But it is also through our bodies that we communicate, serve, create, play, and show love. Our bodies are the external expression of who we are.
I was listening to an interview recently with Rafe Kelley, founder of Evolve Move Play, who said:
“I think, that in order to address the meaning crisis, we actually have to invite people back into their bodies.”
In other words, we need to realise that our physical actions are not separate from our thoughts, our sense of self or identity, or even from our spirituality. This is wisdom that has long been a part of our Catholic Tradition:
“The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual… The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider soul to be the ‘form’ of the body.”
- Catechism of the Catholic Church #362, 365
It is one of those ‘both/and’ situations. We are body and spirit – united. What affects one, affects the other. And that’s a good thing. It is why some of us like to walk side by side while have significant conversations. It is why stillness and silence help to relax the body. It is why the ancient practice of pilgrimage (walking a really long way) has the potential for deep spiritual encounter. It is why the prayer of the rosary connects each meditation with the physical action of counting beads. It is why a whole community coming together around a weekend of sport feels connected and uplifted.
There is something profound in all of that which we are rediscovering as humans. The way our bodies connect to the world around us and to each other is something that cannot be replaced through screens or simulations. We actually have to go and do it for ourselves.
We are made to run, jump, and catch.
We are made to dig, climb, and carry.
We are made to make, mend, and move.
We are made to hold, hug, and kiss.
Every action carries a deeper meaning of living, serving, and loving. And to these, we are called.
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