by Rita Hoop
What is it that draws us, many of whom are perfect strangers to one another and the Divineys, to follow Ryan’s story and journey? For me, the Divineys were my neighbors. I knew of them but did not know them personally, as is the case more often than not in modern communities. But our kids knew one another. They grew up and went to school together – our older daughter in Ryan’s grade and our younger one in Kari’s. So Ryan was a friend of our family by extension. All I knew of him was that he was a great-looking, nice, funny, smart, athletic guy with lots of school spirit and friends. It seemed that everyone loved Ryan, including our daughter. He was never unkind to his peers or disrespectful to adults. How rare is that in a teen?
And then our kids went off to college, and the unthinkable happened to Ryan. Our entire community was shocked and immediately rallied around the Divineys in our hearts and minds, covering this family with our thoughts and prayers (whatever our individual beliefs or faith). If such a tragedy could befall them, it could happen to any of us or our children away from home. But those of us who were drawn to Ryan’s story and invested our emotions in his recovery – no matter how long it might take – were not motivated by fear, anger, or even sympathy. We are motivated – compelled – to walk alongside this family by love. Beyond the love and compassion of a friend or a parent who can empathize with their plight, it is a higher, spiritual love.You see, Team Diviney is not only “smart” and emotionally intelligent; it is spiritually awake. Our Spirit is alive and well, just like Ryan’s: a Spirit which can’t be quenched or silenced by any evil act; a Spirit which remains within us no matter how much our personal faith or beliefs are tested or compromised; a Spirit which connects us to one another and can never be taken away, or lose consciousness. Ryan has this Spirit, and it calls out to us. His family is absolutely defined by this Spirit of Love, and demonstrates it every day as a powerful example to all who follow their terrible journey – terrible, but beautiful too. No evil can prevail against it.
Because of this Spirit, we are driven to “serve one another in love”. We follow one simple command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And the fruit of the Spirit is “LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. It’s that common Spirit of Love that binds us together and draws us to Ryan and his family. That Spirit opposes and cries out against the evil side of human nature, which acts with “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy”. Because of the Spirit of Love, Team Diviney can’t help but rally around Ryan, and against the brutality inflicted upon him in hateful rage. And we are never going away, because that Spirit is eternal.