Friday, August 17, 2012

"I'll Pray for You"

koan; wikipedia
There was a short discussion on Facebook a few days ago about people with visible disabilities being approached by people offering prayer, or healing, or God's grace in some other form. 

Or, to say it plainly, these people approached attempting to connect their own religious beliefs to the disability as a manifestation of spiritual faith.

The person with a disability has taken a wrong turn, but they can show The Way.

I've been there. In fact, I wove such an incident into an essay I wrote, "Pilgrim on the Cross Road," published in Notre Dame Magazine

Those incidents once bothered me. I thought them a crude attempt to blame my pain, my inability to walk, my dependence, on my lack of religious faith and spiritual impurity rather than on a mindless virus.

To me, the proselytizing manipulated the truths of the Holy Carpenter into a Disney "If you wish upon a star ... " magic moment.

My answer then was, "How do you know it is not God's will that I use this wheelchair?"

As you might suspect, these Christian evangelicals (I've never been approached by a Muslim, a Jew, or a person of any other religion) brought doubt instead of reason, and reason (the ability to reason) can be a comfort if a person wants to reconcile himself to paralysis.

I've changed. I have either been compressed into a monument of stoicism or, as I prefer to reason, I have faith that I am living in my own "holy mystery"—a life that cannot be fully explained, a life that only can be lived. 

Now I smile. I say, "Thank you."

I have no desire to argue, or to lash out at the indiscretion. I have no desire to probe into their own pain, or fears, or faith, or whatever else drives them to approach me. I have come to believe that most people struggle through life attempting to make sense of their place on this earth, all while seeking their own bliss, something which is in fact more than mere happiness.

If a person approaches me and promises that God will heal me—Jesus can lift you up! You can walk!—I neither believe nor disbelieve. I am here if He needs me. 

I am no longer invested in their quest for miracles. I seek my own, and more modest they are.

I  am content to wait for the sound of one hand clapping. 

1 comment:

Amanda Borenstadt said...

How annoying that must be.

I'll never stop being amazed by people who approach strangers or even aquaintances with personal comments, advice etc.

I never experienced that kind of thing until my twins were born. When they were tiny I couldn't get through grocery shopping without several strangers telling me how blessed I am, or how tired I must be, or advice about how to take care of them.