The Hero Inside All Of Us
Rector Chris Girata's latest article in the Katy Trail Weekly
My last article introduced the idea that we can be transformed by the power of love. The idea of transformation is nothing new, but our world is often so controlled and predictable that we forget just how powerful raw, natural love can be. The following story shows how we seek goodness and respond to courage and kindness. It might also just be a reminder to us that we have the desire for good inside us.
Last summer I heard a story of a beach trip gone awry. If you’re like me, you definitely expect a day at the beach to be fun and relaxing. I imagine a light breeze on my face, the cool water and definitely a cold drink in my hand. But for Roberta Ursrey, a trip to Panama City Beach took a bad turn quickly.
Roberta and her husband, mother, nephews and sons were enjoying the sun and sand. Roberta had just left the water, expecting her sons to be right behind her, but when she turned around to look for them, she noticed they were much farther from shore than she remembered. Concerned, she started walking down the beach.
And then she heard their screams. They were screaming that they were stuck and being pulled under the water — they had gotten trapped in a powerful rip current. Roberta knew she had to help them, even though people were telling her not to go back out into the water. She jumped in and swam out to them and the rest of her family followed behind her. When they reached the boys, the rip current was much stronger than they realized and despite their best efforts to escape, they were trapped as well — nine people stuck in about 15 feet of water.
Back on the beach, Jessica Simmons and her husband had finished lunch and were strolling along the beach. A crowd of people were on the beach watching and pointing and yelling helplessly at Roberta’s family, and that caught Jessica’s attention. Jessica wasn’t the type of person to stand by and simply watch someone who needed help, so when she saw Roberta’s family in trouble, she immediately grabbed a boogie board from the beach, jumped into the water, and started toward them while her husband and a few other men started to form a human chain to bring the swimmers back to shore.
As Jessica paddled, the human chain grew, with more than 80 people stretching more than 100 yards out to the distressed swimmers. Even though some of the people who joined the human chain later admitted they couldn’t swim, they followed Jessica’s lead and wanted to do what they could to help. Some stood in the shallows, others stood in water up to their necks, all waiting for Jessica and her husband to cover the last few feet so they could pass the family to shore.
What Jessica found at the end of the human chain, she said, was shocking. Roberta’s family was exhausted — her mother’s eyes were rolling back into her head and she was swallowing water. Everyone was exhausted, the waves continuing to drag them under. But one by one, starting with the children, Jessica and her husband, along with the other rescuers, towed the swimmers to the human chain, who then pulled them all to shore.
Later, Roberta spoke with a reporter and said, “I am so grateful. These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Jessica told a reporter that “It was the most remarkable thing to see. These people who don’t even know each other trusted each other that much to get them to safety. We have our own lives and we’re constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps. With everything going on in the world, I’m glad to know that people are still good.”
We aren’t perfect, and we aren’t as good as we want to be, but the desire to be good is inside each one of us. When we witness moments of true generosity, I am reminded that we will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love. Remember that you are loved and look for all the ways you can show love to every person you meet.
Tags: Rector's Blog