I can still remember an outstandingly moving story that I heard at a retreat that made so much sense to me at the time that I allowed it to make an impact on my life so I would not forget it.
The story took place in a small, rural town somewhere in the Midwest. There was a horrible house fire and all the members of the family escaped with their lives, but just barely. The ten-year old son was alive, but suffered severe burn injuries over 75% of his body. To say the least, the pain was pretty unbearable, especially for a youngster who literally saw most of life go up in smoke. Since there were no hospitals close by that could truly administer the help and recovery that he needed, he had to be flown about two states away to a hospital specializing in burn victim treatment. Once again, a horrible change for this little guy, overnight. After about three weeks or so, the young boy simply had enough. He became despondent and nearly lifeless, refusing to eat, play or even interact with others on his floor. However, that soon was about to turn around the following week, by a teacher from the local school district who came to the hospital. Since he was going to be there for quite some time, the doctors believed he should begin in-house tutoring so he would not fall too far behind in his fourth grade studies. When she arrived, immediately realizing how much pain he was in, she began English lessons including vocabulary words, spelling exercises, grammar and that “good stuff.” She continued for the next three days and on the fourth day, a nurse stopped her in the hallway before she went into his room.
“What in the world have you done to that boy?” she asked. “What do you mean?” came the tutor’s reply, “I’m only trying to help him…”
“No, no, you don’t understand,” continued the nurse, “He is a changed little boy who has made a complete turn around and it looks like he wants to live!”
Everyone involved with the life of this young man came to realize what had happened. He had indeed given up all hope until the tutor arrived. When it occurred to him that there must have been a good reason to send him a tutor. “Nobody would send someone to work with me on nouns and verbs and spelling if I was actually dying, right?,” he would exclaim later. I guess what we are saying here is that you never know the entire impact we potentially make on another person’s life. Yet, every single day, those opportunities to love, share and comfort are present. If we ever doubt or wonder about why we are here on this planet, perhaps it would be good to sit back and wait and seize upon those moments that make an eternal difference. We are definitely a part of something much larger than ourselves.