Christmas miracle delights blind boy
A Christmas miracle happened for a delightful little boy in my second-grade class.
I am a Baltimore County elementary school teacher. One of my second-graders is a wonderful young man who enjoys each day, has many friends and is loved by all. He also has an inoperable tumor and is blind, although you would never realize his limitations as he joyfully progresses through each day.
In a recent journal entry, Brian wrote in Braille that he "would like to meet Cal Ripken because he is a great baseball player. He is also a nice man who loves children. I want to shake his hand."
When he shared his desire out loud, the students in my class decided that they should write to Mr. Ripken. Their very persuasive letters included supporting details such as "he is a friend to everyone," "he cheers us up when we are down," "he used to play baseball when he had his sight but he is good at soccer and basketball, too" and "he can sing 'I Feel Good' like James Brown -- you really ought to hear it!"
Brian gave me a hug and said, "I know this wish will come true." I, on the other hand, lacked great faith. Nervously I hugged him back and said, "I hope so."
On the afternoon of Dec. 18, our school received a call from Mr. Ripken's office. The next morning, Cal sat down on the floor next to Brian, was extremely warm and caring. He watched with enjoyment as Brian sang and danced. He even wrote on a baseball, "To Brian, teach me how to do that James Brown thing."
We talked about Christmas plans, families, basketball and growing up. Cal didn't rush us at all and presented Brian with an autographed hat and T-shirt. (His brothers and my daughter were recipients of these treasures, too).
I tell this story because so much negative is written about sports heroes and schools. Here is a prime example of what's right about both.
Mr. Ripken had no media coverage, had nothing to gain politically and yet he gave freely of his precious time to a special young man whose time on earth is also precious.
Child-like faith can make miracles happen even when big people are skeptical.
Debra Taylor Myers
Poetry didn't die, it's taken flight
An answer to Glenn McNatt's Dec. 7 column ("Poetry is dead"):
I feel the wild birds. At my feeder, I can count dozens of SBBs -- small brown birds. I can distinguish the sbb house wren from the sbb sparrow. If I really concentrate, I can distinguish today's sbb new visitors from yesterday's sbbs.
But why spend that extra effort? They twitter, they chirp, they liven a dark day with sound and motion, much like TV, or modern poetry.
There are other days, the day the falcon (or hawk, I enjoy them whether or not I know their name) flew over and every creature, even the squirrel, froze for 15 minutes trying to appear invisible.
Days I plant sunflowers for the goldfinches and count the titmice. I look for the jays and cardinals and smile at the crows, plump and glossy and larger than some hens.
My bird pet-companion, when I choose it, will probably be a roller canary with a sweet song, or a big gaudy parrot or macaw -- a peacock, a falcon in flight or an eagle -- something to watch with a lift of the heart and the tug of a smile.
My favorite modern poet will soar high with the measure and rhythm of insight. I will look for one that sings today's words on themes so deep they resonate with the march of time.
I'll continue to fill the bird feeder and the book shelf. I'll continue to read modern poetry, passing over the little squeaks and twitters until I find some meter, a bit of wisdom, a long lyrical high note to hold in my soul.
I'll glance occasionally at the sbbs, in case there's a different feather, a new resident for the realm of the heart.
No justification for violence
You have reported that the principal of Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., has already started the "he-was-just-a-poor-victim" defense of the vicious gunman who had been subjected to teasing, taunting, etc., by his classmates.
Before people take this tack they should talk to someone who has been that sort of victim. I was a puny boy terrible at sports, a whiz academically, socially immature: a typical nerd. I was subject to all sorts of verbal abuse.
Despite the "sticks and stones" saying, that was harder to bear than any physical abuse. However, it never entered my head to resort to violent action.
Instead, I took it, hung tough, and eventually won the respect of my classmates. That was only the beginning of a toughening-up process.
From time to time, as I grew into adulthood, other incidents of taunting arose, from each of which I emerged tougher.
I am sure there are many others who used this sort of "victimization" as a lesson in how to hang tough, rather than an excuse to shoot up the town.
Incidentally, violence was by no means foreign to my little home town in the upper Ohio Valley: there were at least two murders in town (not school related) while I was in high school.
Robert C. Tompkins