Looking for Lance

Bill Strickland is a well known cycling author.  With a couple of books and numerous articles Strickland is a name cyclists know.  So it was no surprise to see another article from him in the latest edition of Bicycling Magazine, this one on Lance Armstrong and his “comeback” to the 2009 Tour de France.

At the end of his article he concluded…

“Since that first Tour victory a decade ago, he has been a figure we each fill with our own idea of who he should be: hero, saviour, cheat, overlord, patron, father, philanderer.  The comeback has intensified – and complicated – our interpretations of him.”

I thought these words were powerful because they articulate the projections we ALL possess of one another!  In most cases we carry only images of the people we think we understand – not true intimacies.  We never truly know the depths of our heroes or our villains- perhaps this is why Jesus reiterated the importance of praying for our enemies!?  Perhaps stepping away from the role I play at the church and the images I have of a community of people really emphasizes how much I don’t know about you, and how much you don’t know about me!  

I find this utterly fascinating – that we are people who come together for various purposes, and we know parts of one another, but there is seemingly so much space between us!  Perhaps this is a healthy space- avoiding the TMI experience!  But in some cases I must admit – what I don’t know, is frustrating!  Sometimes all we have are images, snap shots, and, yes- assumptions about one another.

But, if we’re honest people of faith, we realize that we carry images of God as well- visions of who God is, and what God does – and does NOT do!  And each of our experiences color in another shade of the character we know, providing us another glimpse of clarity into one another and into this God that bestows us with such memories and thoughts.  Like snapshots of an old scrapbook we look back on the stories we’ve shared with admiration, remembering fondness and joy!

Perhaps this is why the Biblical text is so important to us.  It is the story of a people- different times, different places, different experiences of God.  But it is the scrapbook we inherit that shows us glimpses of God’s grace, of human frailty, and of the power of love.

Back to Lance- the truth is we all have mixed feelings about the people we know and don’t know.  I have mixed feelings about Lance.  The nickname I have read is “PhArmstrong” as if to say he is so wrapped up in various substances that the anti-doping control must be run by the likes of Goofy!  However the 30+ anti-doping tests that Lance has faced this season alone, with not a single abnormal test suggest this is indeed a gross misnomer.  No matter what opinion you or I have of him, he seems to have proven he is both a survivor and conquerer, making him larger than life!  

So- today, I’ll be looking for the Goliath among men out there as the riders fly by!  But, I’m guessing that it won’t be so much the man, as it will be the atmosphere around him!

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