Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Disabilities Act - What Else Can Be Done? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Disabilities Act - What Else Can Be Done? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Tuesday is the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and people in a number of areas in the United States have planned events to celebrate this milestone.

Few would question that the ADA has opened doors for people who otherwise would have been cut off from productive employment and the opportunity to do and see things that many of us take for granted.

This hit home for me when a man whose son was in a wheelchair visited the museum where I volunteer. At the time, we were waiting for the installation of a chairlift that would make the museum accessible to such visitors.

The father took photographs of everything, wanting to share the experience with his son that way, but it wrung my heart to see this young man - who waited downstairs patiently - shut out of our exhibits. Some months later they returned, and we all rejoiced as he became one of the first users of the chairlift.

Visitors such as this young man and others with different disabilities have taught me some important lessons about the human spirit and each individual's spiritual identity, which transcends physical appearance and abilities. Because each of us is really the child of God, expressing divine qualities in our own distinct ways, one's ability to contribute to the progress of the world transcends disabilities. Each of us can support one another's efforts in our prayers and in our deeds.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "What is man? Brain, heart, blood, bones, etc., the material structure? If the real man is in the material body, you take away a portion of the man when you amputate a limb; the surgeon destroys manhood, and worms annihilate it" (page 172). She went on to say that, on the contrary, such losses can sometimes spur the individual to transcend these difficulties and actually bring out more strength.

But another message one can take from this is that each individual we meet has a spiritual identity that is complete and perfect. A disability can't hide one's spiritual nature, which is the essence of everyone's being. This spiritual nature is expressed in joy, intelligence, peace, goodness, honesty, wisdom, and love. …

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