Sunday, May 30, 2004

Growing up

The Eagle has landed. Out comes E.T. and off goes his ship-left stranded in a foreign land-away from his familiar friends and faces. Throughout his stay on this foreign planet, Earth, he befriends Elliot who accepts him and makes him part of his family.
One Summer in Maine, all is calm and the waves are splashing gently against the rocky coast as they have for many years. Birds fly overhead on their nightly journey home, lobstermen head home for the night and the sun has begun to set. This paradise in Maine was enjoyed by me for many years providing a welcome relief from the hectic school years that I faced back in Fairfield.
I liked the predictable rhythm of the tides and coastal activity as Maine accepted me for who I was as a teenager and adult.

Growing up as a child had its challenges as I can attest to. When I was born, 1/4 of my brain failed to develop properly. This caused me to have a rocky start at life. What came naturally to most of you like walking, talking and eating had to be painfully learned and adapted to over the years. But with the faithful intervention of my parents by my side and with numerous therapists and friends, I emerged into the world a little more confident of my place in it.
Traveling this road was a new one to my family during the 1960's where research and treatment programs for delayed development were not in place. But my doctors and therapists and parents worked to develop new ground by training the rest of my brain to do what I lacked at birth.
I began my education at Human Resources School in Long Island which was headed up by a pioneer, Henry Viscardi, who was handicapped himself and knew firsthand the challenges facing the handicapped.
After 8 years there, we moved to Fairfield, CT where my public schooling began. Crossing over the small slate step in the back of Osborn Hill school was a new time of challenge. Having left the cocoon of Long Island and facing the world of normal people who watched everything I did and said caused many days of turmoil and challenge for me. But the challenge of learning how to deal with this new environment brought me more courage to live out the tough tides and storms of this life.
In Psalm 139:13-14, King David wrote, "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. In 2Corinthians 4:7, the apostle Paul states, "for we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. God has demonstrated this to me by the circumstances that He brought into my life and the way my friends and family have supported me throughout.

The scriptures have much to say of how the old testament people such as Mephibosheth who was the son of Jonathan whom King David showed mercy toward as seen in 2Samuel 4:4 and 2Samuel 9:1-12. King David granted Mephibosheth a treasured place at his table and accepted him for who he was and not for what he was not.
Another example is that of Moses. God came to him in the form of a burning bush and asked him to speak on behalf of Him. Moses felt incapable of accepting this assignment because of his limitation in speech as stated in Exodus 4:10.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:3, "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and preaching are not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom but on God's power. Throughout the apostle Paul's life, he suffered from a thorn in his flesh. This brought humility to him and demonstrates the sufficiency of grace in our lives during our times of need.
He faced times of trial especially when he was shipwrecked and also became imprisoned for his faith. These times taught the apostle Paul to rely on God and not himself. As a result, Paul wrote many epistles encouraging future believers to stand firm in their faith and their lives.
Acceptance by others is an important lesson that I learned from my high school coach, Michael Abraham, who appointed me the team manager for the Andrew Warde Eagles basketball teams. I learned how to relate to the players and the other teams as I learned the various aspects of running a team. It provided the opportunity for team spirit while being near the action of the close games.

Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by many everyday people who have risen above their challenges. One of them is my friend, Gary Davis, who is a client of the Kennedy Center. When I met him, he was living at a group home with 5 other residents. As I got to know him, I saw there was a lot of love within him and potential to his life. When he graduated from the home where I saw him grow toward independence, God gave me an opportunity to invite him to our church to become part of our family there. The lessons learned from watching him take on greater independence in working within the Milford community apart from the Kennedy Center workshop and to his ability to interact and be friends to us at church is a real life example of God's love and acceptance at work.
Another friend of mine that comes to mind is Tim Dailey who was a blind student at Fairfield University that I had the privilege of helping with his school work. He never let the shortcoming of sight stop him in his pursuit for life and the love of God.
In America, three individuals who faced challenges, rose above them and made a profound impact in our society. FDR contracted polio and was unable to walk. Yet, he was able to lead our country through WWII with a determination and grit as he comforted the nation with words and wisdom to unify our nation.
Helen Keller was born blind and learned to make the connection to the world through the help of Anne Sullivan, her teacher, helping her to make the connection between the running of water to the actual word being signed into her palm. Thus, bridges were built into her life that helped to give her world new meaning and perspective. A final example is Joni Ericson Tada who was an ordinary teenager living in California until a diving accident changed her life forever. Her courage to overcome the tough times of rehabilitation and rise above the circumstances of her handicap earn her a badge of courage in my book. She has reached out to numerous handicapped people throughout her world to bring the good news of Christ to them.
In conclusion, these examples of heroes in my life and in the world have shown me how much God can do. Paul states it best when he says in Ephesians 3:20-"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine for the power that is within us."
E.T. finally joins his ship and is taken back to his home. Just in the same way, God will be taking us home someday for He so loves us. The tide of time and life continues on.

1 comment:

pERiWinKle said...

This is beautiful...if we just all remember the end goal...of Jesus coming to pick us up...we will not worry that much about yesteday, today and tomorrow.

Your beautiful writing makes me smile...and I feel like saying I salute you! xx