July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:14 PM
"As the year 2000 draws to a close and that strange urgency to organize my new date book and clean out closets consumes a portion of my vacation energies, may I also indulge in one other matter: I must finish the year with a confession. One year ago today my husband and three kids watched as I diligently filled emptied two-litre soda bottles with water. They giggled as I hovered over lists of foodstuffs and finalized menus for easy-to-prepare meals. My husband, in particular, thought the Y2K scare was one big joke. He theorized that more than a few Internet entrepreneurs were banking on the fears of well-meaning citizens. He resents that kind of industry and so do I. I trust his instincts yet I fear naivete more than anything else. We have three kids depending on our being prepared. Therefore, I half-heartedly joined the Y2K frenzy and reasoned that any preparation would be good should bad weather or natural disaster temporarily cut us off from the local supermarket. I stocked up on items like dried milk, canned tuna, boxed macaroni and cheese, and batteries - just in case. I even allotted plenty of water for hair washing, which pleased the teenagers in the house immensely. I also giggled at 12: 05 a.m., Jan. 1, when the lights continued to illuminate our turn-of-the-century celebration shared with neighbors at the end of our road. I still believe that having emergency supplies is important and rather convenient, especially when a quick dinner is needed. I have occasionally been spotted in the garage digging through our emergency supply when time is dear. I am glad I have it. So there you have it: my silliest endeavor of the year. What is not silly is retrospection and planning. Both help us to see from where we have come and provide a framework for deciding which path to choose as we look ahead. Never has assessing and planning, training and dreaming - all of which are especially appropriate activities for a new year - been so beautifully portrayed as in the movie Chariots of Fire. This week my family has enjoyed several glorious days of down time together and when my dad - the track and field fanatic - announced that he wanted to rent the three-time Academy Award winning movie, my kids were less than thrilled. It's old! they commented, It was made clear back in 1981! Thanks a lot, guys, I responded, It was all the talk the year your dad and I were married! From the moment the memorable theme song filled our family room and the kids caught the opening scene featuring a group of runners training along the shoreline below the White Cliffs of Dover, they were hooked. Directed by Hugh Hudson and featuring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson, Chariots of Fireis the story of a Scottish missionary and a Jewish Cambridge student whose motives and problems are explored against the backdrop of the 1924 Olympic Games. Not only is it an entertaining story, but there is a rich message: When you embrace the notion that you were created by God and given gifts for a reason, you will find a place in this world and can strive for excellence surrounded by unexplainable peace and strength. Both men go on to win gold medals in the sixth Olympic Games. The young Cambridge student agonizes his way to the gold. He wants it so badly, in fact, that he goes so far as to secretly pay a coach to help with his training, an absolute no-no at the time. The young Scottish missionary agonizes as well. The intense training pulls him away from his church duties and at one point his sister questions his motivations. Toward the end of the story it looks as if his Olympic dream might evaporate. An essential time trial is scheduled on a Sunday, a Sabbath day he honors in spite of intense pressure from England's Olympic committee who wants a win and knows he is the man to deliver it. It is the serenity surrounding the missionary that cannot be ignored. As he incorporates stories of his running successes into his sermons, he tells his congregates that God is using him to teach life lessons of excellence and endurance that move away from the track and into real life. He knows he is part of a greater scheme and eternal plan. Let us make God a part of our planning. Let us see what He has in store for us this next year and look for the kind of peace that comes only from Him. "