Every time I see a person in a wheelchair, or a person walking with a seeing dog, I feel a pang of pity for those who don’t have what I do. It’s difficult for me to imagine living without some of the things people take for granted today. Everything I can do is because my body works properly; because of that, I can live.
I first thought of this “belief” when I got contacts. When I put them in, I was astounded at the difference they made. Everything was sharper, clearer, and even colors seemed brighter. I looked around at the world with new eyes, literally. I wondered to myself if everyone could see the world the way it looked then. At that time, my mother sad to me, “vision is a wonderful thing.” Though she may have been teasing me, I took those words to heart. Not just vision, but every function of our bodies is a wonderful thing.
I learned the truth of that lesson through a couple from my parish. I’ve known Ed and Joan for several years, for as long as my father has been helping them. Several years ago, Ed had a stroke that caused the entire left side of his body to be paralyzed. The very first trips to their small home left me near tears. Ed cannot move, dress, or feed himself. He cannot even say what he means most of the time. Though his word slips can be humorous, they can also be painful, especially when Ed becomes obviously frustrated at his inability to say what he wants. Joan takes care of him as best she can, but she herself has a bad back, and has nowhere near the strength required to get Ed in and out bed. Although they have a hard life, they are both incredibly kind and faith-filled. Joan always refers to my father and me as her guardian angels. Though I sometimes leave their house with a heavy heart, I just as surely leave with a deep appreciation for even the simplest things my body can do.
I’m grateful for it all. Walking, moving, and jumping, but also reading, thinking, and calculating. How complicated our bodies are! Even something as simple as moving one finger could require different combinations of 14 muscles dedicated to doing just that. I believe that the body is the most wonderful and useful instrument a person will ever own. I believe that a person should take good care of it, and most of all, be grateful.