Updated: Jun 3, 2020
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared Here is that rainbow I've been praying for It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Look all around, there's nothing but blue skies Look straight ahead, there's nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Here is that rainbow I've been praying for It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day Bright (bright) bright (bright) Bright sunshiny day It's going to be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day
(I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash, Jimmy Clliff)
A bright, cheery song, almost made for a children’s repertoire, with no basis in the harsh realities of the real world, right? Maybe not. I Can See Clearly Now is the victory song after the amazing story of the first Jamaican bobsled team is told in the 1993 Disney movie, Cool Runnings. While artistic license was certainly taken in creating the movie, the core of the narrative remained true to actual events. Jamaica, a traditional participant in the summer Olympics, sent its first bobsled team to the winter Olympics in 1988.
What possessed the two businessmen to create a Jamaican bobsled team? From what I dug up, I still can’t really tell! They were watching the push cart races in the country, and decided it would be a great idea! They went on to convince the Jamaican Olympic committee, unsuccessfully recruit from the track and field team, and then moved on to the armed forces. Crazy! They felt confident in taking men who’d never seen snow, having them train on grass and concrete, with a sled that was really a cart, that this team could not only qualify for the Olympics, but also reasonably compete. And one footed most of the bill. That kind of craziness take an amazing amount of tenacity and belief in one’s suspected outcome.
And Mission1Race, always playing about the edges of my mind, came into full focus as I thought about this unlikely team. We are participating in the crazy, unimaginable endeavor of spreading the love of God to a world that fights with ambition to annihilate the beauty it finds unique. We are the crazy Jamaicans signing on to bobsled even though we’ve not yet seen snow. Like a modern day Moses, ready to step into the Red Sea (Ex. 14), we know full well it is only by God’s miraculous interruption of the norm that we will come out on the other side.
So how does this song relate to more than just cinematic emotionalism? Well, I’m glad you asked. That first Jamaican team brings tears to my eyes, not because they worked hard and took a steady climb to victory. No! On their trip to that first Olympics, they experienced a disqualification, a shoulder injury, lack of funding, and lack of equipment. And their final run of the 1988 Olympics, they crashed at 85mph, helmets scraping along the side of the course. And, though they’ve qualified for and returned to many more Olympic games, the small island has still not medaled. During a 2018 interview, Mr. Chris Stokes, a member of the original team, made the statement that they likely wouldn't have returned to the following Olympic Games if the crash hadn’t happened.
Throughout the song above, there is an interplay of language that suggests the artist is not yet in paradise. "I can see all obstacles in my way." "It's gonna be a bright (bright), Bright (bright) sunshiny day." "Here is that rainbow I've been praying for (rainbows typically show when the storm has just barely ended, and there is still rain in the air)." "Look straight ahead, there's nothing but blue skies." It seems Mr. C. Stokes, Mr. White, Mr. Harris, and Mr. D. Stokes understood something the song seems to hint. These men who were all still involved with the Jamaican Bobsled teams at the time of the interview in 2018, 30 years after that first Olympic event for the team, had instituted opportunity for many other Jamaican athletes. I can see clearly now; they can sing this song.
And my mind once again reverts to M1R. Yes, Lord, there are so many obstacles in our way. But you said it will be a bright, bright sunny day when we are able to create space for even one more person to recognize the unique beauty created in the other. It is still raining, pouring actually… with terrifying lighting and thunder, but your Son is creating a rainbow of promise for those who follow your heart of love. I’m looking straight ahead, way, way ahead – This is our hope - Your love has already won, and there are blue skies ahead. Oh Lord, “It's gonna be a bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshiny day” when your people follow your heart and seek your face (2 Chron. 7.14).
- Becky Miller
Cliff, Jimmy. I Can See Clearly Now. Comp. Johnny Nash. 2014.
Harris, Devon, interview by Unknown. Interview with Devon Harris, Co-founder of Jamaica Bobsled Team Sports History Weekly, (February 23, 2020).
Harris, Devon, Michael White, and Chris Stokes, interview by Dylan Dreyer. First-Ever Jamaican Bobsled Team: It Was Even Crazier Than ‘Cool Runnings’ | TODAY YouTube. February 2018, 2018. http://www.sportshistoryweekly.com/stories/jamaica-bobsled-devon-harris-winter-olympics,842
Joe, Average. "TRUE STORY OF COOL RUNNINGS: THE 1988 JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM." Avrage Joes. n.d. https://www.averagejoes.co.uk/culture-film-blog/true-story-of-cool-runnings-the-1988-jamaican-bobsled-team/ (accessed May 25, 2020).
Cool Runnings. Directed by Jon, Jon Turteltaub. Disney, 1993.
Trump, Scott. "Jamaican bobsled team reflects on unlikely journey to '88 Olympics." Today. February 7, 2018. Stump, Scott. "Jamaican bobsled team reflects on unlikely journey to '88 Olympics." Today.com. Last modified February 7, 2018. https://www.today.com/news/jamaican-bobsled-team-reflects-unlikely-journey-88-olympics-t122438.