At times I feel I the need to apologize to the animals that live in my back yard for coming into their space.  A few days ago, I had a five to six foot red rat snake slowly mozzie around my feet looking for a place to hide.  Known are a reclusive snake, this slinkly being was in no hurry to get out of my space.  I watched him in fascination realizing that he wasn’t going to harm me and that he probably did not realize I was invading his hunting area.

I wonder if that is the way that Doug sometimes feels.  He’s been on a walker for some years now and he gets increasingly slow in maneuvering around.  He accents many of his steps with “I’m sorry.  I’m trying to hurry.”  Of course, the harder he tries to hurry; the slower he goes.  While we try to insure him that he isn’t in our way and that we will wait on him, he’s aware of the inconvenience he is causing and he doesn’t like it.

At times, we hear people say, “Of course, THEY don’t understand.”

In reality, the mentally challenged community is acutely aware of the inconveniences caused by their speech impediments, their slow and uneven gaits and their inability to understand.  And they don’t like it any better than you or I would.  Yet, somehow, they endure with a grace that is pretty astounding. 

This past month we collected toys, personal care items and school supplies for children in Haiti.  Each week as people brought their gifts, there was such joy and delight in knowing they were helping a child who had great personal needs.  We were able to collect enough to fill 45 boxes and still we have more things coming. 

Sure, the folks who attend Special Gathering lose their tempers and some folks in our community can be mean or spiteful, but as a whole, it is a joy to be associated with people who care about not getting in your way.  They want to be a useful part of society.  They desire to contribute to the well-being of others.  They understand that a lot of people work hard to make their lives happy. 

Our executive director often quotes the runner, Eric Liddel from the movie Chariots of Fire who said, “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.”  He says, “I feel God’s pleasure as I minister within the mentally challenged community.”  Seeing Doug struggle to move out of your way, it’s hard not to feel God’s pleasure.