Tuesday, December 21

Wheel a mile in my chair, then we'll talk

One of the blogs I read is from a biomedical engineer who has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.  Her blog has been a very interesting read for some time, as she sees the world differently than most folk do and that difference is quite helpful to me better understanding our society.

In her most recent post, she talks about how experiencing disability is vital to helping develop coping mechanisms.  If you want to truly understand wheelchair accessibility, you need to sit in that chair for a few days.  No amount of degrees or fancy book-learnin will replace the reality check that you can't take a wheelchair up that incline, despite what the textbook says.

Apply this thought to pastoral care.   Tell me, Father Smith.....
  • When your wife of 20 years died, how did you cope with the loneliness?
  • How did you muddle through your teenaged son's addiction to drugs? 
  • When your boyfriend dumped you for a girl half your age, how did you deal with the rejection? 
  • When you got pregnant at 15, how did you choose between your own future and the future of the baby?
  • How did you handle coming out to your parents? To your friends? To your church?

Reading about fishing doesn't make you a fisherman.  Studying parenting or marriages doesn't make you a parent (or married).  Christ ate with the outcasts, walked with the infirm and touched the unclean.  This gave him perspective, a near instinctual understanding of what these people needed and wanted beyond the obvious.  Our society today is different than 50 years ago, let alone 2 millenia ago.  To be able to minister, we need to understand.

If we're going to going to make the world a better place, we need to wheel a mile in another persons' chair.

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