We have a gentle rain for our walk today. Other places in New England had a flood warning, but here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, we were spared that abundance of rain. A little rain will not dissolve us so I figured we could still go on our walk. How are you today? Have you had a good week so far? I hope so.I’m learning a lot about disabilities lately for I have been in Pulmonary Rehab at Concord Hospital here in New Hampshire. Now anyone who knows me knows that I have never been a fan of regimented physical exercise. When I was attending college at Tufts, I dreaded my gym class which was a required class for two years. As I was working in the afternoon building houses with the Parkhurst brothers, I was physically strong. All afternoon I would lug two by twelves or two by four pieces of lumber in all different lengths. Fellow workmen and I would carry cement forms from lot to lot rather than place them on a truck and bring them to the next excavation. It seemed rather unnecessary for me to be in gym when I was working every afternoon at a physically exhausting job. Where this pastor is still active in his workshop and still does not seem to have a lot of time to spend there, Physical Therapy in not at the top of my list. However, I have to admit I must now make it a priority in my life.
We have been taught so many different ways to strengthen our breathing and how to live a life style that makes having a breathing issue less difficult. Thinking back on years of smoking when I was a young man, working in saw dust as a carpenter, and breathing in wool fibers when I was working in a wool warehouse in Cambridge, it is no wonder that I now face what they term COPD.
Between my heart and my breathing, I now frequently have to stop and rest when I am walking, and I use a cane more frequently. In other words, I have challenges in front of me of a physical nature, and it has caused me to learn that there are many thoughtful people who care for those who are elderly or physically challenged. Cars stop to let me cross a street, a person will ask if you are all right when you stop and rest for a moment going into a store. When I went to our recycle center, a father asked his teenage son to help me unload the rubbish in the back of my truck. That means so very much when you are out of breath and taking time to unload your rubbish. So many times, it makes me think of Jesus and his love for those who were physically or mentally challenged. He did not thoughtlessly pass by those who were in need of help and solace.
Our daughter Annie, or Evangeline, has worked with those who are physically challenged for years as she is a occupational therapist. Presently she works in a veterans’ hospital as a driving instructor for veterans who have lost the ability to be licensed drivers through an accident, a stroke, or other injury. She retrains those who have lost limbs in the service of our country so that they might become independent in their mobility.
When I last talked with Annie, she told me of a man who had taken instruction and was to be brought before the registry to see if he would be allowed to drive his automobile again. The veteran she had been working with was so nervous that Annie was afraid he would freeze up and not pass the test. As she works often with the registry officials, she told the person who was to test her retrained driver how nervous he was and to please take that into consideration for she felt he was truly a safe driver. He had no use of his feet and all driving had to be done with the use of his hands.
When the driver was asked to park his auto parallel to the curb, he had difficulty and became very upset. The registry official told him that was ok and that they would try again a little later during the drive. Sure enough, he was able the second time to park the vehicle perfectly into the empty parallel space. He was ecstatic when the registry person informed him he could have his license to drive.
When they went to take his picture for the license, Annie said he looked so serious that the first picture was very stern and serious. Annie looked at him, called him by his name, and said, “ Now put on a big smile on your face.” As he smiled a broad smile, Annie said it seemed there was a light in his face, and the person taking the picture agreed.
It is not always that pleasing for sometimes a veteran is just not able to drive safely upon the highway. She has had to tell a person she is sorry, but she cannot pass him to be able to be tested for his license to drive. How wonderful it is when people are caring and loving to those who have been injured or through an accident or age can no longer be physically able to do the things they wish to do. Every time a driver stops to let a person who is having a physically difficult time walking across the street, it is so appreciated by that person and any who are watching, including me. There are so many who are kind like Jesus teaches, and it is wonderful to witness.
There are so many times when we who are older can be critical of our young people. It seems that they are not as respectful as we were, or that they are not as hard working and responsible as we were taught, but there are places where they are much more considerate than we were growing up. One of those places is a young person’s acceptance and kindness to those who are mentally and physically challenged. Our schools have adapted to having students who have great variation in learning skills. Children in schools are no longer separated from their classmates unless there is a grave disability that cannot be handled in a regular classroom setting. In my day, there were children who were placed in “ opportunity classes” or were placed in special institutions rather than being mainstreamed in a public school setting.
I’ve talked to you on one of our walks about Smitty who was a mechanic in the wool warehouse where I worked. He only had a thumb and a finger on one hand and his other hand missing; he taught me all about being patient. We have much to learn from those who have had to adapt to life when they are missing some of the physical attributes with which to cope.
Dr. Harrell Beck taught us in seminary something which I have never forgotten and which sums up my Christian faith. He said one day that Christ was always kind – that Christianity is kindness put into action. That, to me, is the most important doctrine of our Christian faith.
Have you practiced kindness to someone this week? Have you been patient with a person who is physically challenged? Have you brought a meal to a disadvantaged person or given a ride to someone who cannot drive?
When I am struggling to pedal that step machine in therapy, and it seems so difficult, how nice it is that the person beside me encourages me and I encourage him in return. We both know our muscles are aching, and we wonder if we can complete the length of time we are challenged by. A smile from the nurse or physical therapist is such a blessing.
Our Scripture is here today John 5: 1 – 9.
1After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
Prayer: Almighty God, may we always be unlike those who angrily confronted Jesus for his loving and curing an infirmity on a Sabbath Day! Help us to be acutely aware of those around us who need our strength and help even though they do not ask for it. Give us eyes that see the places where kindness is needed, and hearts to reach out in love and caring. We thank You for Your presence each and every day and for the example of our savior Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
I hope you will join me for our walk again next week. “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”