Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 19, 2001
Young girl sacrifices so others will benefit
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Julia Elizabeth is my youngest niece, now fully eight years old. She is smart and beautiful.
More importantly, Julia has a gentle kindness. Oh, she can be tough. Two older brothers have taught her to be assertive. But at the heart of this girl is a sweetness and helpfulness I treasure.
A typical image comes to mind. After shopping with my niece and nephews, we return to their home and the boys hurry in with barely a thought about helping to bring in the bags of food they will later enjoy.
It is Julia who makes sure that the door is held wide open for her Uncle Jim, who is laden with all the groceries.
When the day is done and prayers are all that stand between tiredness and sleep, Julia is attentive to pray for all those whom others might forget.
She might be exhausted, but there always seems to be time for one more prayer for that very special person or intention.
Julia's sweetness is also experienced through generosity. And that spirit of giving became clear last week, once again, in her commitment to someone she will never know.
Julia has been blessed with long, blonde hair running down her back to her waist. People often stop her in stores to comment on her striking mane. Julia blushes a little, but not-too-secretly loves the attention.
Her eyes and face shine at the mention of her beautiful tresses.
Last week, Julia, who loves to read, spotted a story in the newspaper about children with cancer. The article talked about a group called Locks of Love. This non-profit organization creates custom-fitted hairpieces for children who experience various kinds of medical hair loss.
Often the chemotherapy used to treat cancer, for example, results in serious loss of hair. It's tough enough carrying the burden of illness, without also dealing with another blow to self-confidence.
Locks of Love (1-888-896-1588) has arrangements with a number of hair salons to cut and style volunteers, most of whom are children. At least 10 inches of hair is needed, and it takes the hair of 12 donors to make just one hairpiece for each patient.
Julia read the story and got very quiet. Minutes later she sought out her mom and asked for permission to offer her own hair for a child in need. Julia loves her hair a lot. But she knows that someone needs it more, and she said a little wistfully, "It will grow back in time."
Listening to my sister describe Julia's decision to offer her hair made me think of the wonderful classic O. Henry story The Gift of the Magi.
It's a tale about the true spirit of giving. And it suggests that giving what we can easily do without is fine, but giving something that really matters to us means much more.
I like the way Julia is giving. She's giving something she loves and treasures to someone she'll never know, someone who can never say thank you.
She's giving because already, at eight years of age, Julia knows something about empathy. She may not know the word yet, but she has the ability to imagine what it's like to go through something painful and difficult, to feel someone else's pain and, most importantly, to do something to help relieve the burden.
I love Julia's beautiful golden hair. But I love her golden and giving heart so much more.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.