David Marenger Not Only Survived, He Thrived
There are lots of kids who love running around and catching insects in jars, but it’s different for young Pete Carlton. Pete has cancer, and according to the doctors, it’s not going to get better. Instead of giving up hope, though, Pete has a dream of catching the rare Amazonian blue morpho butterfly. With the help of his mother, and a famous entomologist, Pete sets out on a transformative journey that touches everyone around him. This is the premise of the Canadian film The Blue Butterfly, and the best part is, it’s based on a true story.
The real life Pete Carlton is one David Marenger, also once a young Canadian boy given 24 months to live before likely succumbing to brain cancer. David was only six years old. Instead of writing to a famous entomologist to get to the Amazon like Pete, however, it was the Children’s Wish Foundation that heard of his love of butterflies, and his deep-rooted desire to seek the vibrant blue morpho. The foundation granted him that trip to Mexico, along with a Montreal entomologist, George Brossard. The young boy was so sickly that, much like Pete, he had to be carried by his entomologist friend through his trip.
The efforts were not in vain, however. Something changed in that jungle, something truly miraculous. After a long journey, David managed to find the blue butterfly. He went home, and the doctors found that the cancer in his head was shrinking instead of growing. David went into remission, and astonished those doctors by continuing to get better.
Decades later, David stood in the jungle again during the filming of The Blue Butterfly, a rare morpho in his hand. This time, though, he was standing, unaided, healthy, happy, 30 years old.
Do miracles exist?
Hope, belief and perseverance are what David counts as the cures to his ‘terminal’ disease. Like the real-life protagonist, The Blue Butterfly hero, Pete, chases the butterfly through the jungle, seeking hope and meaning behind what anyone would consider a tragic occurrence. Why is he the one who has cancer? Why does this have to hurt his mom? Why can’t he be like other kids? The Blue Butterfly’s beautiful juxtaposition of mysticism and scientific study doesn’t answer all the questions explicitly, but instead demonstrates the power of love and belief.
We’re all looking for answers, aren’t we? However, as demonstrated by Pete, sometimes we don’t need all the answers. Sometimes, all we need is a miracle in the form of hope.
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Amma: The Loving, Hugging, Humanitarian Saint
As of the date of this article, Amma has hugged attendees to her programs over 40 million times. Her free events attract thousands upon thousands of people, often taking place in football stadiums. In the early days, when 50 or 60 people were in attendance, Amma was known as “Ammaji” or “Ammachi.”
It was 1990 when I first met Amma. She was seated on a tattered, cushioned chair in the center of a small, basement room in The African-Methodist Episcopal Church in Central Square, Cambridge, MA.
The moment I walked into the room, I was so profoundly struck by Amma’s light and presence that I fell to my knees and bowed to her. I spent the rest of the day sobbing in absolute bliss, happily crouched in a corner. In addition to a few Swamis and helpers, there were less than ten other people in the room.
While indulging my tears, Amma caught my eye and invited me to her chair. I was so nervous, I could barely speak. I walked toward her, awkward and self-conscious, as if it were my first time walking. I bowed and she immediately took my hand, then gently bent me across her lap.
Amma then gently rubbed my body from head to toe while I cried. She massaged my scalp and forehead and patted my spine. Amma even squeezed my ears and tussled my hair. It felt as though I were embraced by the most loving bundle of light.
After 20 minutes of her healing touch, Amma lifted my head with her soft hands and pressed her cheek and lips against my ear. She lovingly whispered Sanskrit mantras to me as I absorbed every morsel of her love.