Do It Like Olga

Olga Savitsky taught me (by example, as most important lessons are taught) why David was a man after God’s own heart.”

I used to believe David got that reputation because of his creative side, that God’s heart was reflected in the David who wrote psalms. But Olga taught me about David’s warrior side.

After she got diagnosed with cancer, Olga became an avid fan of ultimate fighting, which at first troubled me. My son Cody had taken up the sport. I don’t enjoy watching anyone get beaten, and the last man I’d ever want to see hit, or kicked, or thrown down and wrenched into submission, is my son. The second man I’d least want to see treated that way is anybody Cody might do it to. So, I failed to appreciate anybody for encouraging my son in that sport.

Meanwhile, Olga came to love ultimate fighting because it was as close to real fighting as our civilization allowed, with few restrictions except eye-gouging and murder. The fighters, she told me, go at it with every fiber of their bodies, nerves and wills, which gave her examples to follow in her fight against cancer.

Like David, Olga was a poet and a warrior, who during the battle devoted her all to believing; to studying scripture and applying its promises; to praying and meeting with the friends who lifted her spirit; and to avoiding those who weakened her, though she might love them. Sentenced to death, she devoted herself to the art of staying alive. To her, ultimate fighting was a perfect metaphor for the way God wants us to fight for all good things.

Which led me to better understand King David.

Before Olga, I tended to view the Old and New Testaments as separate books, since much of the Old Testament is stories and prophecies concerning strife and war, and the chief themes of the New Testament are love, redemption, and the peace they bring.

Olga made the books into one by teaching me that we can live in peace while at war. The better we love, the more peace we find. And to love better, we need to battle the powers of heaven and earth that create discord, destruction and all evils that use hypocrisy and lies in the effort to haunt, confuse, and embitter us.

To seek truth, as artists are called to do, is to battle against lies.

My grandma was Mary Garfield, a poet, story-teller and painter who insisted that lying was the behavior that grieved her most deeply. And I’ve come to feel the same. Among other evils, lies can lead even people of good will to do awful acts.

While Olga helped me to understand Cody better and to admire him more (though I continue to hope he’ll switch to a gentler sport), she taught me that King David was a man after God’s own heart because he, like Olga, was both a warrior and a poet.

The warrior battles material enemies. The warrior poet battles lies.

 

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