As I listen to tons of Christmas music and shop online for the perfect gift, I can’t forget what happened to our family on Thanksgiving Day.
Due to Genevieve, my little sister taking a sign language class, she learned about an opportunity to serve the deaf community. A church in West Chicago serves people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or deaf and blind. When we arrived, Genevieve was tested immediately. She had to introduce our entire family. She was so helpful and knowledgeable about American Sign Language (ASL). The people that came were living in assistive living facilities. This was their Thanksgiving meal and more importantly, their celebration.
Due to my Cerebral Palsy, I couldn’t help serve them food so I started talking to them. I want to make something very clear. Just because I am disabled doesn’t automatically mean we can communicate. I would say 70% of the time, I felt like an idiot because I had no idea what they were saying. They could read what I typed in my communication device but understanding them was challenging. We would all look at these people like I am so sorry that I can’t understand you. However, Genevieve and a couple of other people did interpret for us.
My mother was asked to help a woman who was deaf and blind to get her meal which meant deciphering what this woman wanted to eat. My mother has never looked more beautiful to me. She is so comfortable with helping anyone. Some would argue that it’s because she had to help me for 23 years. I don’t think so. I think my mom is just one of those people who is comfortable with everyone.
People who know my dad know that he can strike up a conversation with anybody. It wasn’t any different that day. After helping serving food, he struck up a conversation with a man in his 70s. They talked for at least 45 minutes. It was very cool to see!
My brother, David who just turned 18 didn’t complain about missing football pick-up games. He liked being there which I’m really proud of. As for me, I met a phenomenal young woman who had the same mindset as me. We both were very happy and content individuals despite our obstacles. She would text me back after I would type something in my communication device. That was how we had a half hour conversation.
In a busy shopping mall, I went back to Thanksgiving Day. An interesting thought entered my mind. Would they want to hear or in some cases, see the world? For example, would they want to see or hear about the Boston Marathon, the tragic anniversary of Newtown, the massive tornado that hit Illinois? Would they really want to see all the evil of the world? This thought prompted one question: if we were preparing for them to see the world in a week, month, or year, what would we do differently? Would we be kinder to each other? Would we be more compassionate toward our fellow man? Is the world prepared to be judged by people who can’t hear or see in a conventional way? We’ve come a long way. They wouldn’t see slavery or the holocaust, they would see a beautiful country with wonderful freedoms, they would hear the sound of children’s laughter, they would hear stories about how donating organs saves lives, and a lot of other amazing things. After thinking about this, I still didn’t have the answer but I think it starts with giving thanks and being kinder to our fellow man. I realize the deaf want to hear and the blind want to see, but what can I do to make the sights and sounds a little more beautiful than they already are?
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Have we truly loved one another deeply enough? Have we made Jesus proud? That is what I think we should ask ourselves more. The man who walks beside us and sometimes carries us, is he proud of our actions? When we state such a simple question, Jesus becomes less abstract and more concrete. Now, Jesus always has an air of mystery about Him but sometimes, we have to let our brains rest and let the mystery be. Would a man who loves unconditionally and chooses to hold our hands like what we are doing? Would He be proud of what we have done?