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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jesus, blind people and wheelchairs... what?

1 As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
   3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
- John 9:1-3

I'm very often asked a certain type of question when I tell people that I was born with my Cerebral Palsy. They ask if I ever get depressed. Am I resentful of that fact that nature and/of God has allowed me to be "this way?" Their faces become masks of a self-evident sullenness -- a  sort of grief that a person might have if she found a dead kitten in the road by her cozy suburban home on a random Wednesday evening. It's the kind of thing authors put into their novels to give a subtle twitch in a character's psyche to add depth to a story. My answer, however, has always been that I am no more depressed in not walking, for instance, than any person would be in being able to walk. It is what I know, who I am. To paraphrase Lady Gaga: I'm fine in my own way and God make no mistakes. I was born this way and in the above Biblical verses, Jesus seems to agree that this at least might be true foe some folks.

When I first read this verse, I felt instantly assured that the plight of the anonymous blind man was like mine and many people who are different from the norm in any walk of life, whether blind, deaf, wheelchair-using, dwarfed or even gay -- that the glory of God may indeed be shining through people in such situations rather than burdening it as so many strangers I meet would seem to presume. I often hear in my social circles sentences like, "My cancer made me a kinder person," or "My accident made me appreciate my life so much more than before" -- as if these automatically assumed stricken or suffering people have found a secret angel who has enhanced their lives with an invisible cloak that the everyday passer-by fails to see the same way an attacker might fail to perceive a cab driver's Kung-Fu training.  These are metaphors of course, but nevertheless,  I do believe beyond all doubt that we all have something special hidden within us to contribute to existence by which particular glories and graces might be shown.

Through my disability I've known what it is to be ignored by the girls in the nightclub, thought incapable by an employer and I've known what it is to struggle in doing simple tasks like clipping my toenails. I truly have been given patience beyond my peers. I can't walk out of my front door, literally. I'm not medically cleared to drive a car either. You may be asking yourself where I'm going with this rant, but there is a point. That point is this: I know prejudice. I know ignorance. I know "having not." I will never be the spoiled kid. I will never be the man disgruntled and dismayed by not having his car that's being fixed ready in time. I will never be the pontiff claiming that racism doesn't exist and I will never not know what it is to be the minority in the room being stared at and judged. Yet, I remain steadfast in knowing what it is to make the best of every situation -- that every time I do get the chance to travel, I love it. Every moment with my wife-to-be  is  a blessing in that I know what it is to be without that blessing. Every dollar I make feels like $100 because I know what it is to be unable to freely travel to every job within a 15-mile radius. Thus, my attitude is, as the saying goes, gratitude.

There is a saying by a man whose name escapes me at the moment. It says that if the only prayer you ever say is  "Thank you", that would be enough. And while this message is a Biblical one, it is also universal. My struggles have made me realize the universal truth that gratitude creates  humility -- it drops ego and entitlement and replaces it with grace and appreciation for the gifts that life will offer us.

In closing, I hope that you re-blog, tweet and share this post with your loved ones and maybe a few enemies and urge them to be grateful for what they have and even  for what they might not have. May you and I always be thankful in this sense and may you always...

Roll on!

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