January 03, 2010


They were overjoyed at seeing the star. – Mt. 2: 10

Six year old Tony was born with an eye problem; he was almost totally blind. His doctor had read in the New England Journal of Medicine of a new surgical procedure at the Massachusetts General Hospital that might help. He sent the boy’s medical record & in due time a decision was made to try the surgery.

Now, Tony had a favorite teddy bear he kept with him at all times. The bear had begun to show signs of wear. One eye was missing, one ear was chewed off, & the stuffing was oozing out through several holes. His dad offered to buy him a new one but he didn’t want one, so the old one went with him to Boston & remained close through the x-rays, tests & consultations. In fact, the boy & his teddy bear were not separated until the anesthesia was applied for the surgery itself.

When it was over, Tony was heavily bandaged & had to remain still for a couple of days. But each day the surgeon was in & out to encourage him. Finally came the day for removing the bandages. For the first time Tony could see. For the first time he could look into the faces of his parents.

When it came time for Tony to go home, the surgeon gave Tony a big hug & said, “Listen, I own stock in you. I expect to get letters from you regularly. Do you understand?” Then Tony did something totally unexpected. He said to the surgeon, “I want you to have this,” & he handed him his teddy bear. The doctor’s first impulse was to say, “Oh no, I can’t take that.” But something stopped him. With a flash of sensitivity he understood what Tony was trying to do. He wanted to give his surgeon friend the most precious gift at his disposal. The wise doctor accepted the teddy bear with a hug & a thank you, assuring Tony that he would take good care of his friend.

For over 10 years that teddy bear sat in a glass case on the 10th floor of the hospital. In front of it was the surgeon’s card with a caption written on it: “This is the highest fee I have ever received for professional services rendered.”

This incident took place during the Vietnam war where life was being violently extinguished. In Africa , tyrants were massacring numberless people & fearful repressions & crimes were occurring all over. Yet, in the midst of all this global darkness, this teddy bear light shone. It was a pinpoint of brightness joined with millions of others & still remains as sign of God in this world. Travelers still follow such stars to seek out that light that would make a difference. The Wise men wanted to differ with the world’s dark deeds & not just bemoan its terrible state.

How do we make the journey from a cave in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding out to another cave in Bethlehem that contained no weapons, only an animal or two, a husband & a pregnant wife? Story of Miriam Hill:

She was born into wealth & prestige & literally in a Hungarian castle. She went to school in Vienna & became an actress. She fell in love with a young medical student named Otto. They were married & went to live in Hollywood . Otto began to dabble in movies, & became so interested that he gave up his medical practice & went on to become the famed director, Otto Preminger.

Marion ’s beauty, wit & charm got her everything & she became an international hostess. But she couldn’t handle the fast life. She slipped into alcohol, drugs & affairs with other men. She divorced Otto & attempted suicide 3 times before moving back to Vienna . There she met another doctor, but this time it was the famed Dr. Albert Schweitzer, & when he went back to his heroic mission in the poorest part of Africa she went with him. She spent the rest of her life as a hospital servant. She wrote a book called All I want is Everything,” a title inspired by Dr. Schweitzer who once told her, “There are two kinds of people. There are the helpers & the non-helpers.” Marion said, “I thank God that God has allowed me to become a helper & in helping I found everything.”

How do we, like the Wise men, travel from the cave enveloped by darkness to the one bathed in light? Now you know the answer: One teddy bear at a time. AMEN!