Wednesday, March 30, 2016
How We See the Powerless
I parked Reese next to my picnic table. She enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the gentleness of the breeze, eyes closed, half smiling. The second graders moved through the line and I noticed some wide eyes examining her. There was one girl who positioned herself at the table opposite Reese and fixed her eyes on her. She took a bite of her sandwich but never loosened her gaze. Staring. and staring. eating and staring. Then she whispered something to her friend, never allowing her eyes to leave Reese. I realized Reese and this girl were the same age. She was curious. Maybe concerned. Reese no longer looks like a baby in a stroller. She is a big girl in a wheelchair. It's so hard for me to watch people stare at her, and not really because it hurts me anymore. But it hurts me for Reese. Something about this made me extra sad, because she was essentially a "peer" of Reese's, and I thought about how Reese might feel. They would be classmates under different circumstances. I stared back at that girl until she finally took her eyes off the object of her curiosity, noticing my returned stare. Finally, she looked away.
I wondered for a second. Will my girls be embarrassed by her when they come to lunch? I wouldn't blame them. I hate to say that, but I remember being an adolescent. Anything that is different or that draws attention your way can be awkward, even devastating. Their peers made their way through the line and I wondered. Is this hard on them? My heart hurt a little.
Then I heard her. I heard our daughter from across the courtyard. She was sitting with her high school friends. She spotted her 8 year old sister in her sun hat, reclining in her pink wheelchair. "Oh, look at Reese! She looks so cute!!" she told her table of friends. Then she returned to being a high schooler at lunch. She wasn't embarrassed. She was proud of her and she wanted everyone to see her! Yes. That brought a smile. One by one, her three sisters individually came over to give Reese a hello and a kiss. That staring episode was quickly overshadowed by the pure, unashamed love.
It reminded me of one of my fave fave favorite books, "The Power of the Powerless." The author said of his brother, "My room was separated from Oliver's room by a single wall. Five inches of wood and plaster divided us from each other during the night. We breathed the same night air as Oliver did, listened to the same wind, and slowly, without our knowing, Oliver created a certain power around us which changed all our lives. I cannot explain Oliver's influence except to say that the powerless in our world do hold great power. The weak do confound the mighty." Insert Reese's name in there--that has been our life. Totally changed.
The other day I told my sister that too often people tell me that Reese's life makes them so grateful for their healthy children. That's weird, right? It happens more often than you'd think. I know they think that will be a blessing to me. It's not, really. I guess I'm not nice enough or mature enough to appreciate that offering. Or something else. But we hashed that out together, realizing at the core of that comment is the lack of understanding that I am the one who is blessed. I cannot explain the power of a child like Reese. But she has brought a sacred, beautiful, powerful fragrance to our home. To our air. To our lives. We are blessed because of her, not in spite of her. It's true. I feel like the world needs to know that. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, "God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful." Those who live with a powerless child know this to be true, if we will have eyes to see.
"So much depends upon how we choose to see things and events...we have the power to choose." Christopher De Vinck
Posted by Kerry D. at 3:13 PM