Yesterday was the dedication and ground-breaking service for the new construction that’s taking place at David’s House Ministries, which will double their capacity to care for developmentally disabled folks…very special people who have to deal with
incredibly humbling physical limitations, but some of whom have to survive this with minds that are very much in tact.
When my mother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (at around age 75), I tried to encourage her by saying, “Well, at least you’re not in pain” (meaning the physical pain I’d seen related to some types of cancers and other terminal illnesses). “Oh,” she countered, “but you can’t imagine the emotional pain you experience when you know you’re losing your mind.”
During the entire service, one of the residents was wailing
without a lot of modulation. I know this isn’t uncommon among the mentally and emotionally impaired, and I didn’t know the individual,
so I really couldn’t interpret the sounds as usual or unusual.
It didn’t sound like anger, fear, or even distress, but was rather like a lament, and it made me think of my mother. She was always as brave and uncomplaining as a soldier, but I know in her heart she was lamenting, and I think the wail of this one resident was a call to all of us to reach out and help those who suffer. Can you imagine being trapped in a body that doesn’t function, when all around you, you can see people coming and going, eating what they want, and (apparently) doing as they please? I attended with my dear friend Lisa (who helped pray the ministry into existence in the 1980’s). At first, I found myself talking to the care givers at lunch, and then I realized with a jolt that the resident sitting right across the table from me, although both her hands were small and curled inward, was well aware of everything I was saying, and so I started talking to her! She had a name, an age, could remember exactly how long she’d been there, and had a story. I tend by nature to just smile at handicapped people, but I treat them the way I would treat any other stranger: Just a smile in passing. On second thought, I’m more likely to look at their caregiver than at the handicapped person. From now on, I’m going to try to be sensitive to the fact that many developmentally disabled people are quite alert and go out of my way to interact with them in social situations. This may not be earthshaking news to you, but it’s groundbreaking for me, and if you have any stories or wisdom to share from your experience, please write! “Great multitudes came unto him [Jesus], having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30-31) I know we can’t heal people physically, the way Jesus did, but we can be a part of emotional and spiritual healing. If you have time or interest in helping those who can’t help themselves, reach out! (http://davidshouseministries.org/contact-us)( If you’ve never heard of David’s House and want to know more about its background, I wrote about it here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/davids-house-the-concept-and-one-present-reality/)