II Corinthians 5:6-17
May I speak in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustaining Spirit, Amen.
At the end of May, I spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia, attending a conference called the Summer Institute on Disability and Theology. This conference brings together a diverse bunch of friends, from priests and pastors to theologians and community activists, people with and without disabilities. This interfaith gathering seeks to create spaces of belonging in the church for people with disabilities. And the conference seeks to renew how we see our neighbors with disabilities.
Having attended the Summer Institute on Disability and Theology in previous years, I am well known to several of the conference’s leaders as an occupational therapist with experience working alongside individuals with disabilities. My friend Bill who is the primary organizer for the conference emailed me several weeks before the conference started, and asked if I would consider supporting an individual with severe cerebral palsy throughout the duration of the conference. Bill mentioned that her name was Christy. He wrote to me that Christy used a wheelchair and was very independent, except that she was unable to get food and feed herself at mealtimes.
I distinctly remember my first impressions of Christy upon reading this email from Bill: she was a nuisance and would be a drain on my energy during a conference where I was presenting my work in theology and also hoping to have fun with my friends without being tied down to helping someone with a disability who I didn’t even know. I deleted Bill’s email. Continue reading