Yesterday, I spent 9 hours at DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom with my son and daughter-in-law. The thermometer was set at 100 degrees by early morning but the shops and rides were air-conditioned. A 7PM rain storm cooled everything down for the evening.
While others were doing their thrill rides, I sat and “people watched. ” As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by people who boldly travel with children or adults with disabilities. Because we didn’t arrive until 3pm, there were fewer parents with children in wheelchairs but the Brave Endurers were there, wiping brows through the heat and dodging the drops of rain.
These parents and their adolescents are seldom grumpy and irritated. The accompanying adults continue their normal caregiving routines in the middle of bustling children and whining adults. They wipe faces and hands with the care and precision practiced and perfected in their apartments or spacious homes, while keenly observing the world that whirls around them. The parents laugh with amusement and try to comfort.
Within the disability community there is a soothing pulse of normalcy when everything about their lives seems to shout the abnormal has careened madly out of control.
Perhaps that is the wonder and beauty which so easily and firmly captures the hearts of those of us who dare to live and learn within the mentally challenged/disability community. It’s not the need to be caregivers–but the arresting marvel of personally knowing these self-less wipers of hands and faces. It’s not the pitiful state of a broken or warped body; but the overbearing beauty of a human spirit that valiantly radiates beyond the brokenness into the heart of those who will dare to stop and examine.
Of course the Jungle Ride was great. Fireworks lit up the skies with beauty beyond my imagination. The Electric Parade passed with precision and grace. But it was the small boy in a chair whose rhythmic, constant and spastic movements kept his chair pulsing, who smiled at his mom as she touched his cheek that sent a thrill up my spine. It was the caregiver who frantically pushed a young lady out of the rain who touched my heart.
But my greatest joy-filled moment was watching two giggling girls tease each other. The able-bodied friend rushed for shelter, leaving her wheelchair-bound companion soaking in the rain. Because of their shared laughter, the young woman in the chair could not push herself hard enough to keep from getting drenched by the pelting drops. I marveled at the young woman who stood safely under the shelter loving her friend enough to tease her in the same way she would her able-bodied friends.
I thank God for these valiant men, women and children who embrace their adventures at Disney. Yet, I praise the Lord even more for the people who look beyond the difficulties of their disabilities to enjoy their unique journey of life.