This year we have spent some time thinking about disability justice at both Graduate Christian Fellowship and Wine Before Breakfast. In doing so, we have focused on learning from those with disabilities. One lesson we have learning is about how good and holy it is to live within our limitations as human beings.
One source of learning has come from Amy Kenny’s book, My Body is not a Prayer Request. We have joined a number of Christian Reformed churches in doing a book club on the book. You can also watch a video of her presentation at the Calvin University January Series.
We have also been listening to the voices of people who have a disability. One example of that is Hannah’s preaching at Wine Before Breakfast on God as disabled.
One final possible source of learning is a talk by Jane Grizzle, “The Grief and Gift of Bodily Limitations.” While the focus is more on injury and illness, it highlights our relationship with our bodies and the goodness of learning to acknowledge our limitations. The talk can be listened to here or read here. The following are a few quotes from the talk to give you a sense of the presentation:
Her friend who is a counselor told her that ” without fail, if her clients talk about their bodies, they cry every time. It is a place of great vulnerability.”
“Illness and injury require us to slow down, to take a different path, to rest. In some ways, these limitations are a spotlight on our priorities. And when we are forced to slow down and take a look at our lives, what we see may not be pretty. Limits are another word for interruptions or dead ends. When I think about times in my life when I have hit one of these limits, I dislike them for one of three reasons: they are humbling, they are isolating, and they are disorienting.”
“In his book, Being Human, Rowan Williams writes that if we believe we are in charge of our selves and our bodies:
[We] drift towards a steady expectation that the best relationship you can be in to the world is control. The best place to be is a place where you can never be surprised. We want to control what’s strange and we want to control what doesn’t fall under our immediate power. We’re uneasy with limits that we can’t get beyond because limits, of whatever kind, remind us that there are some things that are just going to be strange and difficult wherever we are and however hard we work at them.
[But acknowledging our limits exposes something very true about us]: “we depend on what is not ours, what is not us, our will, our hope, our achievements…Christians are adopted into a dependent relationship to that which Jesus calls, Abba, Father.”