Yesterday I heard a heartwarming story about a former ESPN producer and two of her documentary subjects. Lisa Fenn was sent to cover the story of two Ohio high school wrestlers. One boy was a double amputee due to a train accident and the other boy was blind due to Leber's Disease. When she first went to Cleveland to cover the boys' last high school career wrestling match, all Lisa knew about their story was what she had seen through a picture of Leroy being carried by Dartanyon. She said she had never seen a picture like that before. She did her story and what unfolded is truly a miracle of how community, friendship and love can change a world.
She was touched by what both boys had experienced in life and decided that she just couldn't walk away. Long after the cameras left, she remained in their lives helping them with college and future plans.
In reading Lisa's story I am so touched. It is a story that is so encouraging and up lifting. It is a story that demonstrates hope in a world that desperately needs it. It is a story of how we can live in community and how we are called to care for one another. It is a story that provides a brief glimpse into heaven here on earth.
But it is more than a one-sided tale. It is not all about Lisa and her help. If it were all about Lisa and how she helped the boys it would be another story of a do-gooder getting involved with someone less fortunate. Certainly there is an appropriate time for that kind of assistance.
But for true transformation in societies there needs to be true charity; a recognition that we are in this time and in this place for a reason. And that I am no better, no worse than the person next to me. I can help that person and she can help me. True charity is a recognition of equals- you and I were formed in God's image. We share a connection. Once that connection is realized we can move on in the sharing of our lives, in the understanding of our differences and in our celebrating our similarities.
The boys benefited from financial aid certainly, but they also benefitted from the stability that Lisa's love provided. They in turn gave Lisa a deeper understanding of resilience, determination, courage and loyalty. They all realized that we find our lives- experiencing joy, love and community when we lose our lives- giving away any preconceived ideas, fears and prejudices.
It is a story of the bonds among the three of them and how they have forged a family. I find the story of the boys and their resilience in the face of unsurmountable odds- amazing. What is it about their characters that they did not succumb to the pressures of their environment? I find the story of Lisa amazing as well. Prior to this story, she had produced many heartwarming human interest stories. Something in this story connected with her. And she let herself be connected to it. She was open to take a risk and be stretched in ways that she never had been before.
What about you? Have you ever had the opportunity to meet someone different than you? Were you able to make a connection? Do you recognize the similarities in the people you meet or just the differences? Have you ever taken the risk in reaching out to someone who is different than you? Have you ever taken the risk of responding to someone who reached out to you? What is your community like? Have you ever experienced a glimpse of heaven here on earth?