I have a whole new perspective on handicaps. I have been diagnosed this week with bells palsy. My doctor is unsure if its from my Multiple Sclerosis or a virus, but we are treating it aggresively...always fun. At any rate, the right side of my face is effectively paralyzed. Not pretty while talking, eating, or even smiling. Since I have been chided by husband and daughter about calling attention to it, I am forbidden from using humor and self-depreciation in dealing with it...my favorite safety mechanisms. I am seeing clearly how people deal with handicapped people. It ain't pretty. Even at church...but I am learning a lot of other things, too. Things about myself. I don't always have to be the funny person. People will still like me or want to know me even if I can't smile and talk...There is more to me than that which is visible. That is the message I teach to my children, who have visible and invisible handicapps. Even to my black children--horrible to think of race as a handicap, but it is. There is so much more to people than that which is known by looking at them. In this age of health care limitations and constraints, life is an issue that need careful considertion. Issues on this being heard in our congress soon include a prenatal discrimation based ban on sex and race selection-based abortions. African babies are aborted more than 5x the rate of white babies. Babies are routinely screened for other disabilities to give parents the chance to abort if this would be too hard for them...
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
In light of this, one has to ask how much of this is ignorance-based. One of the readings in yesterday's mass was from Roman's and included the above passage. We need to spread the information about things like abortion, pro-life nurses being forced to assist in abortions because of federal mandates, and end of life issues. We need to do God's work and bring the good news. We live in an information age, but much of what we see is influenced by a secular media whose message is not God's. Are we becoming blind to even what people saw 2 generations ago generally in every day life. Do we just not see people with disabilities out and about. Do we think it is so much harder to raise a handicapped child than a "normal" child. Raising any child is a hard job. If we go in with expectation of perfection, we are sure to be disappointed. If we plan to revisit our youth through our children, I am so sorry but it won't be the same. But wanting to parent...if that is your goal, you can work with anyone! And love them. And be fulfilled as a parent, whatever that means; it really isn't about us.
I think there are three things we can do to be "beautiful feet."
- We can raise awareness of the issues in the secular media. There are things like this contest, where youth are encouraged to spread the message in ways that get accross to secular and religious people on issues like abortion. Reel Life Film Costest also has a facebook page if you or someone is interested.
- Speaking of the media, EWTN has done much to raise awareness and interest in our catholic faith. If you are interested in supporting them, you can go to the EWTN.com or any of its affiliates, like Guadalupe or Ave Maria radio. Both of those affiliates are holding fund raisers next week and provide information on right to life issues.
- We can disseminate information on the dignity of life...all life.
That said, I would like to offer a recommendation on a book for anyone thinking about parenting any baby. It is Different Dream for Parenting by Jolene Philo. No, no one goes into looking for a disabled baby to raise, but increasingly, babies are being born with differing levels of disability. Combined with better heath care at birth, some babies are being born and parents are suddenly pulled into legnthy hospital stays and situations where they are called to make decisions for their child that is life and death with little preparation. Since a child can be born handicapped, needing a legnthy hospital stay, or have an accident and become disabled, it would beehoove everyone to read this. Jolene doesn't address any one issue or disorder, but instead writes about the process and navigating the medical community. She touches on everything from paying your hospital bills to organizing people who want to help (brilliant). She talks about babies who have chronic problems, to babies, like her own, who have issues that can be resolved, and finally, if necessary, she talks about ways to prepare for and plan for a death. It is an amazing reference. There is an excerpt to read a part of the book here. Jolene's blog also holds a wealth of information. I feel pretty bad about offering to be in this blog hop because I wasn't able to generate any interest in my raffle for a copy of the book. I will extend that until this weekend. If no one enters, I will advertise it through Amazon and Barnes and Noble :o) Just drop me a note saying you are interested!