January 12, 2009
Caring for People with Disabilities
I can remember back about 12 years ago chatting with the architect about the new school facilities we were building for Stoneybrooke. He was trying to enlighten me about the guidelines stipulated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA requirements). I was convinced that the requirements were arduous. I moaned and rolled my eyes about some of the requirements. I didn’t think it was fair to make the builder make all those accommodations.
…fast forward those 12 years to the last few weeks of my recuperation from knee surgery. Depending on the day and its activities, I am using a walker (with cool wheels but no horn), a wheelchair or a cane. At least temporarily I am disabled. I simply cannot walk without the assistance of one or more of those devices. And now I am at the mercy of my physical surroundings. I can’t go upstairs in a mall unless there is an elevator. I can’t get up on the sidewalk unless there is a curb cut. I can’t get through a door unless someone holds it open for me.
And if the physical surroundings weren’t challenging enough, I have been the recipient of people’s disdain for the “handicapped”. Sitting in the wheel chair at the Reagan library the other day, I was slightly amused to notice how many people just over looked me. Their eye level was 18 inches higher than mine and somehow that gave them the right to just ignore me. Or worse, cut me off, pushed my leg out of their way, rush ahead of me to a door way, huff and puff if I took up too much room in the elevator and on it went.
The bottom line is, I have had the opportunity so to speak, to walk a mile or two in someone else’s shoes. And I am convinced how difficult it is to maneuver life with a handicap of some sort. (And, I should readily admit that mine is temporary. I can only imagine how tough it is for those folks who spend their entire life trying to move around in a crowded unsympathetic world.)
It got me to thinking…how did Jesus react to the weak, hurt, disabled and suffering of his generation? To answer my own question, I started thumbing through the gospel of Mark. Watch how Jesus reacted to those in need:
Early on, “…the whole town brought to Jesus all the sick…and Jesus healed many who had various diseases…” (1:33)
As His ministry continued, He healed a man with leprosy (1:41), He healed the paralytic (2:11), He healed the man with the withered hand (3:5), He healed the woman with the issue of blood (5:29), He healed the deaf and mute man (7:35), and He healed the blind man (8:23).
And when Jesus sent out his 12 disciples, He made it very clear that paying attention to those in need was “the job”, “…so they set out and went from village to village preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere” (Luke 9:6).
Jesus gave us the example. Over and over again, He paid attention to those hurting. He acknowledged their situation. He did what He could to help. And so should we!
Warmest regards in Christ,
Sherry L. Worel
Stoneybrooke Christian Schools