By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
Remember when Jesus happened to cross paths with two of his disciples as they were trudging toward Emmaus after his crucifixion? He listened in on their conversation and finally asked, “What are you talking about?” They were dumbstruck and answered (probably not intending to be sarcastic), “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”
We in the Baltimore area might respond with comparable incredulity if someone local had no idea what “Ray’s Last Ride” was, or why some guy named Ray Lewis gets so very much ink in local print media, not to mention air time lately. It seems to me that “The Ray Lewis Story” would make a great book/TV movie/big screen production: I’ve been pondering that all season.
An excellent player from the start, Ray began in the NFL with the brand new Baltimore team, the Ravens, 17 years ago. Somehow he was implicated in a fatal double stabbing in Atlanta in 2000, plea-bargained down to obstruction of justice, paid his fine and did his time. No big news in any of that: it happens repeatedly, not only in Baltimore, either.
What makes Ray’s story unusual? It seems the experience was a proverbial “wake-up call.” Ray determined to atone—big time. Remember “a firm purpose of amendment?” Ray seems to have it, to this day, to an extraordinary degree. His foundation, his involvement in Baltimore and Lakeland, Florida, (his home town) projects to spread the wealth and help people up, the many quiet outreaches that get little press—all have been going on for most of those seventeen years, and presumably will go right on after he leaves the Ravens. No fly-by-night, token involvement there, but a committed turn-around of his life’s direction in gratitude for being given a second chance—and, I suspect, for the God-given gift he has for playing football.
Now, you may not care for football—it’s violent, hazardous, some say immoral in the toll it takes on players. That may be true. I’m jus’ sayin’ that this player’s story challenges all of us to examine our own efforts to atone for wrong-doing, to grow wise from the error of our ways—and to be profoundly grateful for our chances and second chances.
What aspect of “The Ray Lewis Story” speaks most powerfully to you? How might it alter your life’s direction as you set out into a new year?