Listen to this week’s Devotional here.
Author: Kevin Pettit
This devotional was written in remembrance of the “official” date of Access Sunday, which is the second Sunday in October; but, being a “movable feast” in the UCC, churches are encouraged to celebrate Access Sunday whenever is best for them. Our church celebrated Access Sunday at the service on September 4th, this year.
“For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love remain, these three, and the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13: 12 – 13
Recently, I went up to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (https://boec.org)to help with a special recreational retreat particularly designed for participants who are survivors of traumatic brain injuries (or TBIs). The campers safely enjoyed river rafting, climbing a ropes course, hand-cycling, and the technical climbing on an artificial rock wall. The program is staffed by volunteers, a registered nurse, BOEC experienced staff, instructors and interns and all activities are enjoyed under the careful supervision of expert guides and assistive buddies. I was there as a buddy.
One of the participants at the camp was a young woman from a small town in eastern Colorado. The consequences of her TBI were many and severe: she is unable to speak and retains only partial muscular control of just her face and two fingers on her right side. (Of course, she ambulates using a wheelchair.) Now, here’s the somewhat confusing thing for most people who haven’t been exposed to many people with TBIs (and other disabilities, as well): inside a body compromised by her injury is an intelligent, bubbly, and very pleasant young woman!
When you spoke to her, she understood, and could respond intelligently to “Yes” or “No” questions asked of her. When happy, her smile was infectious!
Assisting this young woman – who I’ll call Jenny in this devotional – was a friend of Jenny’s from her hometown. This friend did everything for Jenny: she woke Jenny up and she changed Jenny into clothes for the day. She fed Jenny, and bathed Jenny, much as you would with an infant. This dedicated friend went everywhere with Jenny, helping her to enjoy every event as fully as possible. (I was told that, with the help of 5 other friends, they will all work as a team, and have committed to helping Jenny live as fulfilling a life as possible.) All these activities were done without Jenny ever being able to audibly thank or simply hug her friends in acknowledgement of their graciousness.
One night at dinner, I was eating at the table not far from Jenny. Her friend was assisting Jenny in the process of eating. Because she has only partial control of her facial muscles, quite a bit of food dropped out of Jenny’s mouth and was quickly cleaned up by her friend. At one point, with her hands to Jenny’s jaw, her friend was gently helping her chew some very soft and finely diced cooked vegetables.
It was at this point, in the interaction of severely disabled Jenny and her loving friend, I can honestly say that I did see the face of God!
God, please help me to learn to slow down and see your face in everyone I meet!