Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureA woman navigating her way in a large motorized scooter had to maneuver tightly around several people before reaching the elevator, where someone inside the cab was holding the button to keep the doors open for her.

“Sorry,” she said to one person as she moved past. “Sorry,” she said to another as she swerved the other way. “Sorry,” she said again, as she looked at those of us in the elevator.

Finally, tucking her scooter into the elevator with a hair’s breadth to spare, she said, “Thank you.”

A smattering of “no problem” and “don’t worry” lifted softly as the elevator doors closed. And I began to wonder…

I do this, too. I will often find myself saying, “Sorry,” if my illness becomes inconvenient or requires accommodation. I might say, “Sorry,” if I have to reschedule an appointment, or I might also apologize if my slow steps delay someone else’s passage or my allergies or other restrictions put up barriers instead of invitations.

But, why am I and why do others with health challenges apologize for them? And, should we?

Perhaps we apologize because we understand how rude our illnesses and disabilities can be. Perhaps we apologize out of weakness, thinking that we have to say “Sorry” or others will reject us. Or, perhaps we are sorry that our disability causes inconvenience to someone else, however unavoidable it was or is. But perhaps “Sorry” misses a more golden opportunity. Because at one of those moments where our physical limitations meet the public at large (or even a more personal situation) and we need help, an important act of mercy is unfolding. Instead of being remorseful that we are bringing our disability into someone else’s life, for however brief a time, we can be full of gladness and dignity that God has allowed us to be “out and about.” This ability to mingle is a gift we can carry with respect and care. And when we invite others to help us, we are extending the respect to them. We are allowing them to do good things. We are inviting them into our walk, a walk that moves right along in faith with Our Lord.

So, I really don’t think “sorry” is necessary. But “thank you” is. A smile is. A connection as one human person with another. And a breath of a moment where grace can flourish.



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