Learning through disability (12-06-20)
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12. 20 - 23, 26 - 27
There are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I recently read a blog by a young woman called Fiona, who is living with disability. She offered a unique lens through which to view our present circumstances.
Fiona was born with a disability. Her life has been full of periods of confinement at home recovering from many operations. Fiona says ‘she is now observing other people discovering truths that disabled people have always known. Fiona describes this as a time when disabled people are empowered to teach us all something, as we have a chance to view the world for a moment through their unique lens… when control, choices and momentum are taken away.’
In a world where independence and achievement are seen as keys to success, disability enables us to see things differently. Lockdown was Fiona’s normal for significant periods of time, long before Coronavirus took centre stage. Although she doesn’t put it so crudely, in effect Fiona is saying: ‘Welcome to my world!’ but she does so without bitterness. She has learnt to lay down her self-reliance and to develop the humility to accept her situation together with help from others.
Fiona’s disability has become a gift to us able-bodied folk through her conversations and blogs. She points us towards a slower pace and a simplicity of life with a greater awareness of the environment and others around us. She reminds us that it is more important ‘to be’ rather than ‘to do’. She teaches us that it is okay to ask for help when we need it, even when we are able-bodied. This is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than a sign of weakness. Fiona is teaching us about inter-dependence, a reliance on one another, which reflects the Body of Christ. As one body, the apparently weak and strong parts of the body all work together to support each other. Each part is vital if the body is going to function well.
Who are those living with disabilities within our community? What can we learn from each other? How can the able-bodied and those living with disability support each other now and beyond the Coronavirus crisis? How can we fulfil more fully what it means to be the Body of Christ here in our villages?
Compassionate God, who cares for the widow and orphan, the blind, the deaf and the lame, help us to work together as the Body of Christ in this place, that we may be filled with your joy.
To read Fiona’s blog, see ‘A Time of Shielding’ follow the link below: