I get asked fairly often to write things for other people. Forwards or chapters in books, articles for journals, pieces for newspapers, stories for family or agency newsletters, that kind of thing. I try to do as many as I can. As with everything, I'll go months without a single such request and then suddenly get a ton of them all at once. A couple days ago I received a request to write something on 'Disability' for an integrated Sunday School Class, the teacher said that she didn't have much in the way of readings that would incorporate both faith and disability for the kids. Could I write something. I didn't know if I could, but I said I'd try. I'd never done anything like this before, but, what the heck. I'm going to share it here with you - they had no desire for it to be an 'only us' kind of publication. So here's what I wrote for the kids about disability, difference and God.
Everyone is wearing them. They were first made last year for the Olympics in Vancouver and they were wildly popular. An easy way for Canadians to assert pride. For those who haven't seen them they are a knitted glove of a vibrant, Canadian Flag red, with a bright white maple leaf on the palm of the glove. I love my gloves. I wear them all the time when I'm in my power wheelchair. They are warm, they are distinctive and they don't interfere with my ability to steer the chair.
But there is another reason that I love my gloves. They are distinctly mine and easily known by my trained eye as belonging to me. I've several times been somewhere where several people were wearing the same gloves and sometimes there is a mad scramble as others try to find which gloves belong to whom. I don't have that problem. My gloves have a little, tiny, flaw. Somehow there is a stray white thread, only one, that peaks out from a seam near the top of the glove. I glance to see that little white thread and I know that these gloves are mine.
When I first got them I checked others to see if they had that thread, if it was a universal flaw. It isn't. My gloves somehow got by a quality control person and out onto the shelf and from there to my hands. A trip I'm glad they made. They are uniquely mine. I'll never mix them up with another.
I wonder if my mittens, when they were made, worried that no one would love them. That no one at all would choose them because they had a stray white thread. I wonder if they looked at all the other red mittens. All with perfect seams, all with red where it's supposed to be, all with white threads neatly in place, all so lovely and exactly what they were supposed to be I wonder if my little red mittens with the stray white thread envied them. I'll bet they did. I'll bet they never imagined being found perfect because of their little flaw. I'll bet they never ever knew how that white thread would make them uniquely lovable.
I think of my red mittens with the stray white thread sometimes when I look at others and see their perfection and then consider myself and my flaws. I sometimes wish I was made like other people seem to be, perfect. Then I remember that when God comes looking for me, He'll find me easily. He's say, 'Ah there you are, I recognized you right away.' And I'll know how he could pick me out from thousands. Because along my seams there's lots and lots of stray white threads.
Mr. Hingsburger. HOW do you DO that? Write exactly what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it.
You're amazing. And so are your red mittens with the dangly white thread.
And so is "me". Just the way I be... :)
What a wonderful story!
That is BRILLIANT! :)
Thanks Dave, again. :)
You have such a way with words that it all just makes sense! :)
The wheeliecrone says -
Well done, Dave. Well done.
You hit the nail right on the head. Again. You make a bit of a habit of doing that. It's probably why I read your blog every day.
Your blog gives me a gift every day. Thank you, Dave.
I'm reluctant to write this because I don't want to come across as not appreciative or hypercritical. I read your blog every day. I enjoy what you have to say. Often I find myself thinking about disability issues in new ways.
This story though, it bothers me deeply. I don't think disability is a flaw. I feel that my blindness is a part of me, just as my hair color, love for chocolate, sense of humor or preference for reading in my spare time. None are flaws. It is what makes me,I am just the same as the other 6 billion people here and at the same time I am different than all of them. I think we put way too much emphasis on being somehow different from everyone else. Sure disability is different, but no more than any other characteristic that sets a person apart.
anon, not to worry about criticism, I welcome it. About the 'flaw'. I didn't want to use that image at first, but then, I wanted the mitten to see it as a flaw and learn that what was difference, what was viewed as a flaw, was something that simply made them unique. So that they came to value what was a flaw as something very different than that. I couldn't figure out a different way to do it ... if the red mitten saw the thread as valuable right off there would be no journey to acceptance and realization. I'm glad you wrote cause I worried about that to and maybe if I have to explain it, I didn't do it well enough.
Ah, what a sweet piece. And it's beautifully well-written for a child's way of thinking--telling the story in a parable of sorts.
P.S. I am not disabled so this may not hold much weight, but somehow I think that it may be very important for children to hear "flaw" transformed into just "difference."
Well said, Dave!
Dave, thanks for taking the time to explain your thinking. Yes, I totally agree. It is a process to get from thinking of disability as flaw to characteristic. You write very well and everyone else seems to have gotten the point. I think I just read "flaw" and got stuck there.
When I read the bit about God recognising you straight away, I got tears in my eyes. Beautiful.
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