In February 2012 Cory Weissman led out the men’s basketball team of Gettysburg College for their last game of the season. Four years earlier he had suffered a stroke that left him paralysed on one side. Four years of rehab and he was able to walk with a limp, but was still not able to play competitively. But before his stroke he had been on the varsity team and the Gettysburgh coach wanted to give him a few seconds on court as a senior. So Cory was nominated captain and led out the starting five for what was both his first and last game for Gettysburg, for he was now due to graduate.
Knowing the struggle it was just to be there, the crowd and the players from both teams greeted him with wild applause. The Gettysburg coach gave him a few minutes on court before benching him.
With one minute to go Gettysburg was well ahead and the coach sent Cory back out on court. The Washington coach called time out and instructed his players to foul Cory Weissman. For those who don’t know basketball this was a very generous act, for it meant Cory would be given two shots at the basket.
Cory takes his place at the free throw line, feels the weight of the ball in his hands, lifts and shoots. It misses badly. But he has a second and final shot left. Again he feels the weight of the ball in his hands, lifts and shoots. This time the ball flies straight through the hoop, and the crowd breaks out in thunderous applause.
The assistant vice president for athletics at Gettysburg, David Wright, later wrote to Washington College: “Your coach, Rob Nugent, along with his … staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics.”
Source: reported by Frank Record, “When there’s more to winning than winning.” NPR Radio, Feb 22, 2012
In September 1995 Caryl and Charlie Harvey answered an early morning knock upon their front door. Two policemen stood there grimly, passing on the terrible news that their 20 year old son Chad had been found murdered.
Grief stricken they went through the motions of the funeral and life. But as Christmas approached Caryl found herself giving vent to her disappointment and anger with God. He had failed her. Why hadn’t he protected her son as she had so often prayed?
In desperation she prayed, “God, if you care about me, I need a miracle. Otherwise, I think I’ll probably die.” She waited, and that Christmas her miracle came.
One night the doorbell rang. When Caryl’s 13 year old daughter answered it she found a gift but no giver, nor any mark identifying the giver. The gift was a treebranch with apples planted in it and a blue plastic nightingale perched on top. Attached was a piece of paper which read:
“On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
We couldn’t find a partridge,
And our pear tree died,
So you have to settle for a
Bluebird in an apple tree.”
Also attached was a bible verse describing the birth of John the Baptist.
The next evening there was another ring of the doorbell and another gift. Though Sarah, Cheryl’s daughter, raced to the door, she wasn’t fast enough to discover who the mystery giver was. This time there was a box containing “turtle” brand lollies and two Dove brand chocolate bars. The note read
“On the second day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
and included a bible verse about the angel Gabriel appearing to the virgin Mary.
And on it went for the next ten days. The third day were three cornish hens (the French hens had lost their passport the note said); the fourth day there was a cassette tap with songs which had the word “bird” in the title, and a calling card – “four calling birds”; on the fifth day five golden rings were freshly cooked doughnuts; on the sixth day six geese-a-laying were pastel chalk eggs; on the seventh day, seven swans swam across the top of a blue-frosted cake; on the eighth day eight maids-a-milking was a cow candle; on the ninth day nine ladies dancing were 18 gingerbread people decorated as dancers (the Equal Opportunity Employment Act wouldn’t allow them to send just nine ladies); on the tenth day there were ten wooden leaping puppets; on the eleventh day a James Galway tape did for eleven pipers piping; on the twelfth day of Christmas there were twelve drums made out of iced biscuits. And each day there was a Scripture verse preparing them for the approaching holiday.
Caryl found that this was her miracle. For the first time since Chad’s death she had begun looking forward to the next day, wanting to know what would come next. Thinking of that time she says “My miracle. When I couldn’t talk to God, when I didn’t even want to talk to him, he sent my miracle through someone else. God used earthly hands to send it to me, but his fingerprints were all over it.”
Caryl’s experience reminds us that when people are wounded our action can be a miracle to them, helping them find healing and recovery. Indeed, often like Caryl, they are unable to seek God out, but we can become a vehicle of God’s grace to them
Source: based on Caryl’s story as self reported in Christianity Today Magazine, November/December 2001, Vol. 39, No. 6.
A number of years back, a young and very successful executive was travelling down a suburban street in his brand new black jaguar. Suddenly a brick was thrown from the sidewalk, thumping into the side of the car.
Brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, and tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. The driver jumped out, grabbed the kid who had thrown the brick and pushed him up against a parked car. “What was that all about?!” he screamed. “That’s my new Jag, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money!”
“Please, mister, please …. I’m sorry! I didn’t know what else to do!” pleaded the youngster. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop!” Tears were dripping down the boy’s chin as he pointed around the parked car. “It’s my brother, mister,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”
The mood was transformed in a moment as the young executive realised what had occurred. He lifted the young man into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts. He then watched as the younger brother pushed him down the sidewalk toward their home.
The young exec never did fix the dented side door of his Jaguar. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention.