The alarm clock screams, the shower steams…waking up is hard to do. Get the paper, get some coffee and get started on the day…just like every other day.
The rhythm of the morning abruptly stops when I notice the sun.
The gray air turns golden yellow as the sun glows through the dark mass of trees. Sunbeams, once hidden from normal view, suddenly become visible, dancing in the morning sun for a few brief moments. The rising sun then changes the light and the beams disappear again.
Sometimes you have to interrupt your daily routines to truly see the beauty around, for God is there also.
• • •
For the residents of the fictitious TV show Pleasantville, there are no deviations from their daily routines. Families eat a hearty breakfast together, the high school basketball team always wins and the cloudless weather is always a pleasant 72 degrees.
As the film’s prelude proclaims, Pleasantville is “a place where life is simple, people are perfect and everything is black and white. It’s a place that’s as far from reality as we can imagine.”
It’s also a safe, comfortable place for David (Tobey Maguire), a shy high school student from a broken family. He easily tunes out his mother’s telephone argument with his father by watching another familiar episode of Pleasantville.
One evening while fighting over the new TV remote, David and his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) are magically transported into the television and the black and white world of Pleasantville. They become Bud and Mary Sue, the son and daughter of loving parents George (William H. Macy) and Betty (Joan Allen) Parker.
While David/Bud tries to figure out how to get them back to their real world, they assume their new identities and try to fit in with the rest of the pleasant people around them.
They quickly find out, however, that this paradise is a sterile, boring world where fire and rain are unknown elements, firemen only rescue cats and teachers don’t know what lies beyond the city’s borders. This comfortable black and white neighborhood is actually a totalitarian town where new ideas, new emotions, even new colors are discouraged and discriminated against.
But as the light of truth shines on the stale and repressed, the colors of life soon show themselves.
Little by little, people grow in understanding of themselves and change in meaningful, colorful ways. They see the good inside of themselves and are not afraid to let it show.
These new realities anger the townspeople, sparking hatred and vandalism. These acts are denounced by the mayor, who works with city leaders to create a new Code of Conduct that appears to be a pleasant set of rules for all the citizens.
But on further review, the oppressive Code further limits the citizens’ freedom by closing the library, restricting paint colors to black, white and gray, and mandating specific school curriculums.
Through peaceful, civil disobedience, however, the entire town begins to see the good in each other and in themselves.
Sometimes you have to interrupt your daily routines to truly see the beauty within, for God is there also.
• • •
The flight into the capital city of Haiti was just the beginning of a difficult, extraordinary week for the group of ten volunteers from Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville and other churches, including St. Henry parishioner Chris Corby.
After a long drive into the mountains in a 4-wheel truck, the group arrived at the town of Boucan Carre. Sacred Heart Cathedral is twinned with the town’s St. Michel Catholic Church and has been instrumental in the construction and operations of the clinic and schools in the area.
The volunteer group was comprised of three teams: the general medicine team with an internal medicine physician and three nurse practitioner students who specialize in midwifery; the optometry team with an optometrist and two people who screened patients and evaluated vision; and the eye surgery team, which included an ophthalmologist, a nurse assistant and an operating room circulator.
The general medicine team saw hundreds of patients and treated injuries, malnourishment and other diseases for hundreds of Haitians who traveled by donkey over a couple days to this remote village.
The optometry team did not have the luxury of time to track their efforts, but likely screened more than 500 patients and provided glasses or some form of eye care to hundreds.
According to Corby, the eye surgery team “performed 35 surgeries, the vast majority of which were to remove cataracts from people with severe vision impairment, people who could maybe see hand motion in front of their face or light perception. Two weeks ago these people were blind, but this week they are able to see clearly.”
Sometimes you have to interrupt your daily routines to help others truly see the beauty around and within, for God is there also.
First published in the February 22, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2008 Christopher Fenoglio