Mary Travers was facing certain death. She was battling leukemia and five weeks of chemotherapy failed to put the disease into remission. It looked like her singing days were over.
The legendary folk trio Peter Paul & Mary was about to lose their Mary. This trio was the most popular folk singing group of the 1960’s – perhaps the most famous folk singing trio of all times. Peter Yarrow, Noel “Paul” Stookey and Mary Travers formed the group in 1961 and dominated the charts the rest of the decade. They split up in 1970 and Mary Travers pursued her own solo career and made numerous recordings. But the famous three got back together again in 1978 and have been traveling extensively ever since.
Traveling extensively ever since? Not quite. On December 07, 2004 it became public that Mary had been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. When chemo failed, the future for Mary was bleak. Happily this story takes a very positive turn.
Mary is back on the road again singing with Peter, Paul and Mary. They were performing recently at a sold-out concert in Illinois. Before the concert began a woman Mary had never met before was welcomed back stage. Her name was Mary DeWitt Hessen.
While others watched on, including Hessen’s husband and daughters, the leukemia survivor, Mary Travers opened up her arms and enfolded Mrs. Hessen in a very tight emotional embrace. Travers told reporters: “This is a very special woman to whom I owe everything.”
What brought these two women together? Why was there such a warm embrace? Complete strangers who had never met before but now they have just finished their embrace and they are sitting side by side clasping hands. The connection was: a raging life threatening disease and a gracious donor who provided the cure by way of a matching bone marrow transplant.
I have never performed before a sold-out concert and never will. But I do have a personal story I wish everyone in the world could hear. I have some one in my life to whom I owe everything. Mary Travers pointed to Mrs. Hessen and called her a very special woman, and rightly so. I can point you to a very special man and tell you I owe everything to Him.
My raging leukemia was the spiritual disease of sin. No laboratories could produce a cure for my disease. No church, synagogue or mosque could provide a cure either. The more I understood the nature of my disease and what the outcome would be – the more desperate I became. If no cure for my sin could be found, my life would be either wrecked or as a minimum be wasted; but worse still, I would perish in my sins and suffer eternal death. I can’t think of a bleaker prognosis or prospect.
So you can imagine the joy I experienced the day I found the amazing cure for my sin. I discovered that God knew all about my disease and that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the Cross for my sin to provide the complete remedy and cure. Of course, I embraced Him without reserve or hesitation! I thanked Him repeatedly and told Him I loved Him more than anything or anyone else in the world. In fact, I keep on telling Him that.
Mary DeWitt Hessen probably means nothing more to you than a human interest story – there is no personal connection. What does Jesus mean to you? Another historical story – but no personal connection? When you discover that HE is the cure for your sins, you will embrace Him affectionately and an inseparable bond will be formed.
The Apostle Paul said about Christ: “The Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. The Apostle John wrote about the cure and inner cleansing for sin. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin.” 1John 1:7
P.S. Mary Travers died September 16, 2009
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USA Today, 28 August, 2006, Travers Sings Praises of Her Bone Marrow Donor by Judy Keen.)