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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

It is the smell of chlorine that draws you in, like incense left to waft in the chancel after Mass. And it is that subtle smell that triggers a host of memories of early morning practices, bracing for the cold water, long sets, descending split times, kicking, pulling and when it’s all said and done, melting under a hot shower. The Toronto Pan Am Sports Center has been playing host to the Olympic qualifying meet for swimmers and para swimmers trying to punch their ticket for the Olympic Games in Paris this summer. Preliminaries in the morning followed by finals in the evening is the rhythm for each day. And day after day, the crowds coming to watch continue to grow.

When I met my friend Peter lo these many years ago, one of the first things we bonded over was competitive swimming, something we had in common. And on Monday and Tuesday evening, we were in the house to watch, reminisce and be inspired by the ability of our Canadian swimmers. It didn’t take long for us to pore over the good old days, to talk about the great races we swam (at least in our own minds they were great), the races that got away, the painful practices, the events we loved and those we detested.

There is a rhythm and cadence at swim meets that invites old swimmers like us to go back and remember, and to place ourselves there on the deck, at the edge of the pool, adjusting and readjusting swim cap and goggles one more time, mounting the blocks, curling toes, crouching to grab on and balancing for a moment when the starter says… TAKE YOUR MARK!

And the whole place is still, motionless… and then they are off.

The crowd cheers encouragement, swimmers soar, the sound of water in motion fills the space. The clock records splits and times. After all the practice, all the early mornings, all the training, all the years of dedication, it all comes down to this one race. There is elation when the qualifying time is met, and joy and gratitude follow. And there is huge disappointment too, when the dream of the Olympics is dashed when coming up short by two-tenths of a second. Summer MacIntosh, Kylie Masse, Maggie MacNeil, Tristan Jankovics, Blake Tierney and Sebastien Massabie are just a few of the athletes who will represent Canada in Paris.

Lo these many years ago, Peter and the other disciples waited and waited in the heart of Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The stillness was broken on the Day of Pentecost by the sound of a rushing, violent wind that swept through the space where they were assembled. Divided tongues as of fire appeared among them and a tongue rested upon each of them. After all the practice. After all the miles they had travelled with Jesus. After bearing witness to lives being transformed – the sick being healed, eyes being opened and ears unstopped. After the horror and pain of Friday, and the joy and surprise of Sunday, it all came down to this one moment… The Holy Spirit lit up the Church.

And it’s our turn… TAKE YOUR MARK!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto