Last week I was in Delaware for a discernment workshop at Ursuline Academy of Wilmington. The school had just won the state championship in basketball, and everyone was jubilant. In addition, a recent graduate of the school, Elena Delle Donne, had just led the University of Delaware Women’s Basketball team to a school record for wins and its first national ranking. The Blue Hens’ team then went on to win their first round NCAA tournament game this past Sunday.
Local newspapers were filled with the sport achievements. But what really struck me was a photograph of Elena Delle Donne embracing her sister, Lizzie, who was born deaf, blind and with cerebral palsy. USA Today quoted Elena as saying, “She’s my inspiration. The battles that she has faced in her life are incredible. She’s been through almost 30 surgeries. I always keep that in perspective. Any challenge that I’m going through will never compare to what Lizzie does daily.”
I was reflecting on that as I waited at the airport to fly back to St. Louis. I observed a disabled boy with his parents. The mother patiently gave the boy a drink by syringe, one small tube at a time. The father patted the boy lovingly on the head. Then I saw a woman gently pushing a 9 or 10-year-old girl in a wheelchair, the child bald from illness or treatment.
Hubert Humphrey once said: “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the unemployed.” Let’s take some time this Lent to be grateful for our good health and abilities, but also for the light that shines in those in the dawn, twilight and shadows of life and in their loving caregivers.