My spirit’s been dragging a bit lately. I had a second ankle surgery in late July and am still non-weightbearing. I know, having to sit at home in a recliner with your foot elevated might sound appealing to many of you who would like an excuse to sit down and take a load off. I’ve been there, too.
Now, don’t read this wrong. I’m not looking for pity and I haven’t lost perspective on how small this health issue is compared to what others face. But I am human, after all, and sometimes the limitations and challenges, the extra energy and effort, bring me down a bit.
A movie that recently lifted my spirit is Invictus, the story of Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) and his use of Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team, to unite his racially divided nation. After serving 27 years in prison for his efforts to bring an end to apartheid, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. He could have sought revenge against the whites who had kept him prisoner. Instead, Mandela chooses to forgive his former captors and uses his position as president to lead the black majority to forgive as well.
Mandela enlists the help of Springboks captain, François Pienaar (Matt Damon), to inspire the team to make a run for the World Cup title. Mandela seized the fact that South Africa was scheduled to host the World Cup as an opportunity to show his own nation and the rest of the world the progress South Africa was making toward unity.
Mandela shares with Pienaar the poem Invictus by English poet William Ernest Henley:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The poem’s title means “unconquerable.” It helped Mandela through rough times during his long imprisonment.
While I’m not the president of a country, nor captain of a national sports team, I have opportunities everyday within my own circle of influence to inspire others and to evangelize. No, you won’t find me knocking on strangers’ doors or preaching on a street corner. Evangelization can be defined as bringing one’s friends to Jesus. When put in those simple terms, it doesn’t sound so intimidating. It’s something we each can do through our daily interactions with others—at work, at home and at play. It can even be done from my living room recliner!
Read more about Invictus and the topic of our call to evangelize in the upcoming October 2011 issue of Every Day Catholic: “Who, Me? Evangelize?” Check out the FREE online small-group guide for this issue for suggested movie clips to use with a small group discussing evangelization and reflection / discussion questions for those who view Invictus in its entirety.