Love Serving Love at the Special Olympics
By Katie, California
What an awesome day it was in Davis, California this past weekend. Fun in the sun was had by all: players and volunteers alike. At the end of the day, I truly felt like a co-worker with the Mahanta.
It all started four weeks ago when I was asked to officiate tennis matches at the Special Olympics. To say that I was honored was an understatement. I had never done anything like this before. Yes, I am a tennis player but I have never served as an officiator. Would I be able to do it? Were the rules different? Could I withstand a full day in the heat and sun? Could I give them my best at all times?
I felt a little overwhelmed and unsure of myself. So I asked my husband, Jim, to help me on the courts. I was allowed two ball “boys” or “girls.” These are the people who scurry and clear the courts of balls so that the players don’t fall or get hurt. He said yes to this task.
When we arrived at the courts one of the officiators wasn’t there. Jim was asked to perform her job. At this level, the tennis rules are different and we all had to learn the new rules quickly and then get to the courts and use these changes immediately. He was the only one there who could perform this task. They desperately needed him. He said yes.
He was on the court next to me. Our jobs included shushing the crowd, the ball chasers, and the players’ families. It takes a certain amount of strength, tact, and guts to do this part of the job. We, and the players, had to remain focused on the game with absolutely no distractions and total quiet.
One of Jim’s players was named “Katie” and he would repeatedly call out her name. As officiators, we had to be focused on our own court and my head kept swinging around hearing my husband calling out my name. And his little Katie kept winning so she kept coming back on his court.
Being able to successfully deal with the distractions of constant movement around the court, my name being called, implementing new game rules, coaches talking to players, not knowing the players’ names, and having to say and keep the score after every point showed me how the ECK teachings and spiritual exercises have formed and become infused in the very framework of my being.
I realized that all the seminars, classes, books, talks, Satsangs, Vahana work, and community service have helped to shape how quickly I can deal with life’s changes and even become uplifted by the change. Over the years, the ECK has helped me learn to focus and tune in on that which my consciousness needs to absorb.
As I focused on the game I could hear the golden tongued wisdom all around me especially from one player named Aaron. These players are uniquely different than other players in several ways. One way, probably the most important to me, was that they were good sports. They didn’t throw their racquets, swear, or yell at the umpire or referee. Just the opposite.
I was calling Aaron and Willie’s match. Aaron was behind in score and he was intensely watching the ball while Willie served. Aaron tuned in on something that I didn’t catch. He could sense that Willie was struggling and he yelled out, “You can do it, Willie!”
This special love given unconditionally to his opponent brought tears to my eyes. I am used to playing with intense players who are not always good sports. To have Aaron shout encouragement to his opponent, one he didn’t know, when he was behind in score, showed me what a true co-worker with SUGMAD really looked like. In that moment, I was humbled and realized why I had needed to say yes to this volunteer work. I have been in ECK for over 40 years and it took a very “special” Olympian to open my heart to divine love in a way that showed me the overflowing grace of God.
To summarize the experience, I thought I could help teach the “kids and adults” something about competing in tennis. Much to my surprise and delight, they taught me how to be a good sport, how to give love at all times, how to walk the way of the enlightened and leave my ego behind. I felt truly blessed surrounded by their loving embrace.
Saying yes can be a life defining spiritual experience. Vahana work comes to us as a gift that keeps on giving. I thought I was giving a gift only to receive in return an open heart filled with divine love.