A couple of weeks ago, a small-town basketball star set out to find a date to the prom.

Since he was not only the best shot in town -- but the best catch -- dozens of young women began waiting by the phone.Except for one, a learning disabled girl who often lived in a world of her own.

The idea of going to the prom probably never crossed her mind.

Until he called up and asked her.

She was elated.

Last week, I considered calling the two of them to get the full story.

But this week I've decided against it.

In fact, I've decided not to identify them at all.

For I've also decided I could only do more harm than good.

All I would do is contaminate something pure.

Columnists lack the time, newspapers lack the space, and readers lack the patience to do justice to such stories.

We end up distorting and oversimplifying them. And in the process, we kill their natural goodness.

Too often, when the media reports on a simple gesture of personal generosity, we drain it of its power.

We suck the spirit from it.

Oh, I could call the boy and get a comment.

But what would he say to me?

If he refused to talk, he'd appear embarrassed, or aloof, or timid.

If he spoke with me at all, the fact he spoke to the media would look vaguely self-serving.

And what would be gained by letting the world know their names?

He'd be seen as a poster boy for sensitivity. She'd become the faceless benefactor of someone else's good will.

The blood would be drained from them. They'd become cardboard figures.

Somebody would congratulate the boy, tell him he was a model of virtue, a shining example for our youth, a kid with a future.

If he gloried in his goodness, I'd feel a little foolish.

If he felt chagrined and exposed, I'd feel the same.

So I'll just let them be.

Good deeds seldom go unpunished. And the news media inflicts more than its share of punishment.

I'll leave them to dance at the prom.

But I'll leave them with a couple of good wishes.

My wish is what began as an act of good will on his part ended up as an act of good will on hers.

She didn't feel unworthy to be with him.

I hope, as the night wore on, he found her company more refreshing than the company of the charmers who preen and posture.

I have a feeling he did.

I also have a feeling they enjoyed the dance more than anyone else. Just as I have a feeling they'll enjoy it even more as time goes on.

As they age, the evening will become a sweet moment of personal connection.

Shining a spotlight on that dance would only sour its sweetness.

By keeping mum, I can preserve their feelings.

When Jesus performed acts of good will, he often told the person to go his way and tell no one.

His time had not yet come, and he knew the hot light of publicity would twist the humble nature of his message.

He knew exposure would make him a celebrity and undermine his mission.

But the "news spreaders" of his day couldn't help themselves.

They told everyone.

Our "news spreaders" today do the same.

I have punished many good deeds in my life by exposing them in the press.

But today, I'll hold back.

Today, I'll let a young couple dance their dance of private grace and personal kindness with quiet dignity.

Today, I don't try to cut in.