Just saw the news that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was released from the hospital this afternoon, not quite a week after collapsing on the playing field and nearly dying before our eyes on a “MNF” game between the Bills and Cincinnati.
It was a shocking, sickening moment for all who witnessed it, and for all their differences, people instinctively prayed.
A young man’s life was hanging in the balance, and even if he wasn’t our relative, friend or teammate, all that occurred to us, all that mattered to us, was to pray. We have since learned what a good and decent man Damar is.
But in that moment, we were reminded what good and decent people our fellow Americans are, too. We were reminded of what we’re truly made of, when we’re not being manipulated and divided by pols and pundits.
There was not one “expert” on the airwaves, not one political speech, that told us how to react. Instead, it was spontaneous. But not unprecedented.
We did what we, and before us, our parents and grandparents, have done, in times of trial and tragedy.
Even the experts were, for a change, cautious and measured. Almost no one engaged in wild speculation (although that has since begun to happen, naturally). There was honesty, decency, and dignity.
And there was prayer. Public prayer. Not just offered by religious leaders, but led by people like ESPN’s Dan Orlavsky, who broke into prayer live on ESPN. His prayer was beautiful in its sincerity and awkwardness, like I pray and you do, in our silences or at our tables.
Now, Damar Hamlin lives. Lives!
He felt well enough to Tweet his support to the Bills in their season finale yesterday, noting that he wished he could run out on to the field with his mates, but “God is using me in a different way”.
Why don’t we take note and maybe try this medicine a little more often? Last time I checked, record numbers of us are beset with debt, the worst inflation since the ’80s, life expectancy is plummeting, a 21st century reboot of World War I has broken out in Ukraine and our headlines are full of lesser, but still shocking, daily happenings, like random acts of violence over politics, race and sex.
Last Monday night, we knew what to put aside, what wouldn’t and couldn’t help, in favor of what we’ve always relied on.
It didn’t let us down—He hears us.
We should listen to our hearts and instincts more, and to the dividers and hustlers less.