I was holding the door open for an elderly woman who was having difficulty catching her breath after walking up the ramp towards the entrance. I was not in a rush, and even if I was, it only took a few seconds of waiting. She came through the door, looked at me and smiled. She thanked me, made a joke about what a 'gentleman' I was and then said, with meaning, "May God Bless You." I thanked her for her blessing. It was a nice moment between strangers. I believe she meant what she said, that she wished blessings upon me. I believe she meant it in the kindest possible way. And. Frankly. I liked it.
I do not always, as a disabled person, have an easy relationship with being 'blessed' by others. Only a bare couple of weeks ago, here in Toronto, (Toronto!) I was stopped by someone who wanted to pray for me, wanted to ask God to Bless me, wanted that blessing to heal me. I felt insulted. I felt violated. I felt belittled and devalued. I was not rude to the person who wanted to foist her blessings on me, I simply said that I was good with what God made. When she began to protest that God wouldn't have made ... I hushed her and told her that if she finished her sentence I would no longer react with patience and calm. She looked surprised! She hadn't seemed to notice that I was restraining myself in my dealings with her.
I believe that, in many ways, my life has been blessed.
I believe that, in many ways, my life continues to be blessed.
When the elderly woman at the door offered God's blessing, she did so as a means of offering me something important, something that would enrich my life. She offered it to me out of kindness and generosity and a sincere reaction to me as a fellow human being.
When the other woman offered me blessings it came from a very different place. Similar words completely different intent. This was not an act of generosity but an act of aggression. It was not an act born out of kindness but out of prejudice. She was wanting to use God's blessing to scrub the stain of disability off my soul. Um, no thanks.
Having a disability means figuring out, in many interactions, who you are to the person you are speaking to. Am I a fellow human? Am I less than human? Am I more than human?
After all that, trust me when I say, I hope you all have a blessed day - a day where you get to just be human, without guesswork, in every interaction you have.