Ministerial Muses—1-9-17 Thank you, Meryl…

Posted January 9th, 2017 by anna and filed in Ministerial Muses
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My cousin Barbie suffered oxygen loss at birth. She never sat up. She never spoke. Her life expectancy was 10 years. She lived more than twice that because her mother, my Aunt Stella, was a nurse. I was in grade school when Aunt Stella sat me down next to Barbie and taught me how to connect with the person she was inside. As I grow older I become more aware of how life altering those moments were for me.

Years later, my childhood friend Edwina and her family were live-in supervisors in a home for abused children. I visited them there often. I held hyperactive infants and played with hyperactive toddlers. The term “crack-addicted-at-birth” hadn’t been invented yet. None of us understood why those children were so difficult to help, but Edwina and her husband and her children and I all connected with the people trapped inside those challenged little bodies.

Soon after that I began attending a small Spiritualist Healing Church. Part of their regular service was Healing Chairs where practitioners trained by the church offered healing to the congregants. One of the practitioners was a young woman with Down’s Syndrome whose chair was often left empty. The first time I sat in her chair I was feeling very magnanimous and superior because I had chosen to do so. When she placed her hands on my shoulders to begin the healing, the heavens opened up and I heard the angels singing. A future teacher, Johanna Decourcy, explained to me that high level spiritual beings often choose to incarnate in challenged physical form to make the statement that the spirit and not the body matters.

When Sarah Pallin, accepting the Vice Presidential nomination, introduced her infant Down’s Syndrome son as “perfectly beautiful”, I cried knowing how many parent’s lives would be changed by the statement.

As I watched Meryl Streep last night at the Golden Globes, I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that her motivation was primarily the McCarthy Era. Regardless of the motivation, I thank her, a person who can portray any person she chooses to become, for saying that it’s not okay to further isolate people who face a distancing world every time they leave their homes.

Several months ago, I was waiting for a bus on 116th Street and a large gentleman of color sat down beside me. It was just the two of us. He turned out to be a schizophrenic and recovering drug addict. He worked, very skillfully, to engage me conversation, eventually leading us into the topic of Trump and racist sentiment. Somehow I was guided to tell him that I believed that no one can change the world. We all just have to deal with the circumstances that are presented to us in the best way possible. It must have been the answer that he needed to hear because he began to tell me that he was being moved out of the group home he had been living in and would be moving to a new neighborhood where he didn’t know anybody. I told him that he had very good social skills and he would make friends wherever he went if he just did what he had been doing. I think it was what he needed to hear because he fell silent and a minute later the M116 bus arrived and we went our separate ways. I felt like a success that day as much as I ever have.

Thank you, Aunt Stella. Thank you, Meryl.

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