I know...I know...three posts in one day. Insanity at it's best but I just could NOT let this go.
This evening I slipped out to Mass at a local parish. This was not my home parish but there was a Mass time available where I knew I would have coverage for Miss Courtney at home.
So I headed out with a spring in my step and joy in my heart happy to celebrate this special Feast Day of The Assumption.
I arrived in plenty of time and settled into some quiet prayer. As the church began to fill up I heard the familiar sound of an electric wheelchair behind me.
A caregiver settled her crew of three beautiful young woman all in their early twenties and ALL of them in wheelchairs. She quietly gave instruction to one in particular who began to hum loudly that she needed to calm down before Mass began. She obliged as her humming got softer.
I am always amazed that anytime I go anywhere without my daughter I always meet one of her sisters or brothers in Christ out in the world. Maybe it's Courtney's way of letting me know she is not alone in her brokenness and I am not alone in my caregiving.
I smiled at the woman taking such good care of them. She looked tired but smiled back. I understood that look immediately. I bowed my head and began to pray for her and the beautiful burden that she had been given.
The Mass began and proceeded without incident until right around Consecration. Then one of these beautiful souls behind me wanted to continue singing after the organ had stopped playing. Father didn't miss a beat and kept going. Her caregiver quietly spoke to her letting her know she needed to stop. She was not happy with that choice, but after two rather bodacious yelps she remained silent the rest of the Mass.
It's what happened in those 60 seconds of yelping that has me beside myself in this moment. I rarely rant unless it's about the fact that there is no chocolate in my house or I am required to wear spandex in public.
I smiled after yelp number one. It reminded me so much of my Courtney's yelps that she sometimes spontaneously gives as a gift to her fellow parishioners at St. Mary of Sorrows where we attend Mass. They know her there. They LOVE my girl and I am blessed for that. They accept her fully and they usually smile when she decides to sing, even if the choir has stopped.
But get ready people...because here it comes...
Unfortunately in this moment, in this other house of worship, something disgraceful happened. A woman sitting in the third row, right smack dab in front of the altar, where Jesus was present, body, blood, soul, and divinity...bent her body around to look behind her at who would have the gaul to make such a sound at such a time in the Mass.
Her brows were furrowed. She had a look of complete disdain and she shook her head looking directly at the woman behind me!
Oh no you didn't. I thought. Oh no you did not just give that poor woman your judgmental "get control of "those" children" look.
"'Those' children shouldn't even be in here. They don't belong here" was written ALL over your face lady!!
After the second yelp she turned back around shaking her head, finally paying attention to her own child who was swinging back and forth in the pew thinking it was recess time, and whispered something to her spouse who then looked back with the same look of disdain.
The steam began to rise from my ears, my face felt hot and my heart began to race and I had to bow my head to keep flames from shooting out of my eyes!! I prayed a quick prayer that the caregiver did not see this woman's reaction. I prayed that she was too busy with her charges to notice.
Oh I do hope that was the case. I lost focus. I had seen it and that was enough.
My mind exploded!
Let me tell you something mam.
Do you have any idea how long it took this wonderful woman to get those beautiful young ladies ready for Mass this evening? The grooming, the pottying, the transfer to and from the chair to the wheelchair van to the pew.
LOOK.AT.HER. She is bowing her head in praying asking for the grace to survive another day. To love them as best she can. To make sure they KNOW they are loved. She bows her head in prayer begging God to give them peace of mind and body.
Hey Lady! You want to know HOW I know that? Because it's MY prayer every single time I enter a house of worship. Hell...it's my prayer in the silence of the night as well. It's EVERY caregivers prayer.
Do you have any idea how many years she had to work with them so they understand proper Mass behavior?
SO what she yelled out...with JOY for the ONE who gave her life!! She has every right to!!
I am so sick and tired of people who profess themselves to be Christians, turning around during Mass and JUDGING a situation they should just ignore! If she needs to be taken out then let her caregiver decide that. Don't shame her into it with your looks of superiority and disdain!
These beautiful souls are made in the image and likeness of God and they have every right to be given every ounce of respect that you yourself require lady!
Their personhood is NOT defined by their disability!! They are children of God and instead of being mean, why don't you just bow your head for a moment and offer a prayer for that parent or caregiver!
Why don't you offer to give her assistance if you think she needs help-- (which she did not in this instance).
I took a deeeeeeep cleansing breath.
As a parent of one of these special ones I will no longer abide by those looks. I will no longer tolerate the shaking of the head or the whisper of conspiracy.
What if my Courtney were with me? Then she would have joined in and that woman would have had an absolute stroke!
GROW UP PEOPLE!! You should be paying attention to what is happening on the altar, not shaking your head because a child of God yelped TWO times with praise.
And for those of you judging me in this moment for not paying attention and letting my eyes wander during Mass...I know...I got it...I need to keep my eyes on Christ. Lesson learned believe me!
Heavens to Mergatroid!!
When will this world start to see my child and those like her, as people of worth and value?
They have DONE NOTHING WRONG!! They are human beings that come in a different package is all. It is not their fault that they are who they are.
GOD chose to allow their ailment to afflict them.
GOD chose their families and their caregivers to love them.
GOD chose you to be a witness to all the joy and love they bring to this bruised and broken place.
SO the next time you're at Mass, or the grocery store, or wherever and someone who may be differently abled starts to sing or hum loudly, why don't you for one moment imagine they were your child and treat them as you would your own.
It's what Mary did do...her whole life! She cared for the sick and the broken and she brought them to her SON, just like I bring my daughter and this woman brought her three angels to see HIM tonight.
It's what her Son Jesus taught each one of us to do! He calls us ALL to Him. We are all equal in HIS sight. We all deserve to worship as we are able.
So take that and put it in your rude and judgmental pipe and smoke it lady!!
Excuse me now...I have to get in line for confession...
Since publishing this earlier this evening, I have received a few emails from others that attended that same Mass. I want to assure everyone that I am not convicting this parish or it's members for one persons actions. I was simply reacting to what I witnessed and I pray the other caregiver did not see.
Actions speak louder than words and tonight, one persons action sent me into a tail spin. I am always honest in this space...always. Sometimes it's not pretty. Tonight is one of those times.
I pray this starts a conversation that is long overdue wherever you worship. ALL are welcome friends. It's what Jesus preached and what we need to live up to.
Labels: Courtney's World