Seeing the Light in the disabled.
HOPE, FREEDOM & POSSIBILITY.
Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there. And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Unless you spend time daily with someone who is disabled, you may not think to see the Light of Christ them, but I promise you the Light is there and it is strong. I also know that the range of disabilities extends from learning to physical, from mild to severe, and from partial to completely involved (think Stephen Hawking).
Today I had the opportunity to volunteer at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation center Spinal Injury Games, and what a blessing and eye opener that was. Although I guess in saying that, it really shouldn’t be because the Paralympics happened just past this summer, but it was. I saw competition, camaraderie, compassion, committed organizations and vendors and manufacturers with extraordinary technology to give disabled persons access to the freedom of travel.
I was also moved by the games that were played, and I mean I saw some full on physical contact; wheelchair rugby, passing league style football, wheelchair hockey, tennis, and some extraordinary post and 3-point shooting in wheelchair basketball, as well as some good old fashion swats and blocks. And if someone in their complete participation in the moment of action rolled their adapted sport wheelchair and fell over, the others were quick to stop, assist or wait for one of the team volunteer physical therapist to assist the player up, wait for the “I’m Good” sign, and right back at it they went. I was moved, I was inspired and I was inwardly embarrassed at times. See, I have a mother who has mostly used a wheelchair for 14 years now since her stroke had her be a patient at this facility.
So why was I embarrassed? I was embarrassed because I had never seen the world from her point of view. Meaning, I had never spent time in her or any wheelchair to understand what her world was like. And on saturday I did. I borrowed a manual chair and wheeled myself around the event for about an hour, dodging people, lining up in the sun to order food, carrying food on my lap, bouncing off table edges, drifting on downslopes, and just getting a real view of the world from the view of someone in a wheelchair. I have a new appreciation of her world, and even shared the idea of creating this as a ‘learning experience’ to be held at more events. Imagine the difference our community may experience and learn from when more people have ‘walked in their shoes’.
Jesus the Christ left us with a message of community activism, not marginalizing or dis-integrating others. He was very clear when told us “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me.” And to strengthen that message he healed ‘cripples and the afflicted’, the marginalized, those whom we would present day call handicapped or disabled.
As a little boy I remember singing in church the hymn “Have you seen God today my friend, have you seen God today…? And today, I can say yes I did. I saw the Light of Christ shining bright in athletes. Shining bright in the therapists, students, and volunteers that carry the torch of Hope, Freedom and Possibility for the disabled who look towards the physicians and therapists to put them back onto a road towards Freedom, Self-expression and some level of independence. The Light of Hope, the Light of Possibility and The Light of Christ is alive and well in the Hearts, Spirits, and Faces of those who continue to live fully despite their disabilities.
We look forward to dedicating one of our light themes to being a symbol for the Light of the disabled, and those that serve the disabled. Until then, may His Light shine upon you and may you shine your LIGHT upon another,
The team at America’s Decor Store, Faith Division.