I have a vivid picture in my mind of an event and I hope that I can do it justice in ‘painting’ it for you.
Two love seats and one large comfy chair…one of us seated on each with my big black cat taking up residence on the arm of the chair that my friend is in. My friends ‘daughter’ is seated on a love seat, happily sipping (gulping is perhaps a better description) her glass of cranberry juice. I’m seated on the other love seat closer to my friend as we chat about some things going on in our lives. Soon there are tears flowing (well, we’re women after all…)
As the tears start to flow, the daughter puts down her glass and comes over to gently pat the face of her ‘mom’, wipe the tears and give her a hug. She then sits back down. We continue to talk. After a time my friend and I decide to pray. I reach my hands across to her and we join hands, close our eyes and begin to talk to God. Suddenly we feel small hands touching ours, hands that are wanting into the circle of prayer.
Did I mention that my friend’s ‘daughter’ is a woman with Down’s Syndrome? She's all of 4 feet high and when asked how old she is, she says that she's 8 but really she's closer to our age. Like my ‘daughters’, my friend did not give birth to this precious gal but for all the reciprocal love that is there she might as well have.
So, of course we each joined a hand to one of her hands, with fresh tears in our eyes and continued to pray. This picture is still vivid in my mind's eye.
I’ve seen writers like Henri Nouwen and Mike Yaconelli speak of how much individuals like this ‘daughter’ have had to teach them. Both of these men speak of spiritual awakenings and growth as a result of such relationships. I can attest to that in my own life.
I am so blessed to have relationships with many a person with a ‘disability’ whose 'ability' to love openly and unconditionally is often much greater than my own.