Just in time for All Saints Day, I led the funeral of an everyday saint. A “Renaissance woman” and natural athlete, Donna White, who was born blind, roller-skated, played tennis, rode a bicycle, and played softball using an oar for a bat. (Her family yelled, “Swing!”) She played the flute and piano, put together jigsaw puzzles by touch, and cooked from scratch. A Berkeley graduate and social worker, she reared six children and welcomed almost 100 people in need as long-term guests in her home. Her motto was, “You need help? I’ll help you.”
In 1992, she testified, “Christ has always come through when there are times of want and I have always been provided for. … He’s filled my life with light and love and many times he has come to me. Everyone says how terrific I am, but it’s not me. It’s Christ, because without him I couldn’t do it. Everyone thinks they have to acquire the fruits of the Spirit, but I feel I’ve been stuffed with them! It’s so hard to describe how wonderful I feel, so overwhelmed with Christ.”
Scripture presents many stories that address disability in terms of inclusion and restoration. The unifying narrative is one of God’s gifts of grace through Christ.
Read John 9:1-3:
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
Reflect: In this time that calls for innovation in ministry, what might we learn from differently abled people whose daily lives are characterized by creative approaches to everyday tasks? Where might this moment in history cause additional hardships for those with special needs that present opportunities for ministry?
Take Action: Augustine once said, “Lord, all I’ve discovered by you I have done so by remembering.” Consider reading a spiritual autobiography to open a new window of revelation to God’s works among us. Here are a few to consider.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Mitzi Johnson for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements. Mitzi Johnson is the interim pastor of Saxapahaw UMC, and in January will begin serving the congregation of Soapstone UMC (Raleigh).
If you are not receiving the monthly Encouragements emails and would like to, sign up for the mailing list here.