Sunday, December 26, 2010

Full Circle (and then some)

A follow up to yesterday's post

From my distant vantage point in the cardio-loft high above the work-out level, I didn't notice just how the muscular young man ended up on the floor of the gym between his wheelchair and a piece of exercise equipment. Considering the way he was attempting to haul his legs about with his arms and pull himself up a bar it was easy to assume he was purposely doing some kind of exercises that required ground level. It wasn't obvious that he was in a bit of trouble until the wheelchair rolled even further away. Possibly he could have managed to do it himself eventually and undoubtedly would have preferred to be able to, but, within seconds a couple of able-bodied young buffs left their muscle-making-machines to assist. He allowed them to hoist him genially back to his chair, send him on his way with a hearty slap to the back (thus bringing him back to the manly world of physical toughness), and return to their sweating without a backward glance (giving him a chance for get-away without drawing further spectacle to himself).

All those who had observed the whole scene, with politely-averted eyes, had a guarded relief on their faces. And, though they kept their faces expressionless, the two young hard-bodies couldn't have felt other than glad to have a chance to help. And appropriately so. Ater all, the strong SHOULD help the weak, right? Check out Romans 15:1. And even Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Yep, everybody felt good again. Especially about helping him retain his dignity.

So, how fair is that? The guy in the wheelchair never gets the bigger blessing. WRONG! He is constantly in a position to give people a chance to feel good about themselves. He is actually giving the most here. Hard to tell just who is the strong one.

Funny how life happens. Shortly after this incident I ran into an applicable quote* by Frances Young, a British theologian, and more than that, a mom to a handicapped son.

"The key, it seems to be, is in establishing a reciprocal relationship with the handicapped. The most fundamental aspect of this is the recognition, not that we are doing them good, but that they are doing something for us"

We all already know that of course. As it says in Proverbs 11:17, "The man who is kind does himself a favor." Nothing wrong with that at all. I'd just like to see the word also at the end of that Bible sentence. Because none of it negates the importance of performing the kindess to begin with.

*The quote was in a different book, but it was cited there as coming from page 179 of Samuel Wells's Improvisiation: The Drama of Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2004)

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