Sunday, September 30, 2012

Truly Human Be-ing

Radical Hope in Hard Times: Some reading questions for your reading of Nancy Eiesland

Signs of the Messianic Age:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy. Is 35:5-6

The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-32

So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22


I walked into the administrative offices of EDS and saw Jesus there with Mary his mother, and I sat down between them on the couch. Mary looked at me with a full plump shining face--perhaps rubbed with olive oil it gleamed so much--and with a great loving smile said, "Pat, be a human being!" 

"What, that means having a BODY that decays and ages and breaks and rots!" I cried. Mary hugged me and said, "I know, I know." Then I wept, "And someday, I will have to .. DIE." Jesus hugged me and also wept and said, "I know, I know."

I had that dream in 1983, and today Nancy Eiesland [see link] reveals its meaning: that the fully human body is already or inevitably will be disabled, sick, limited, crazy, damaged, in terrible pain, oozing, blind, incoherent. The full human body is susceptible to torture as much as glory, and cruelty as much as love.


Thus, Eiesland breathes life into "broken for you... shed for you..." In her liturgy she writes, "will be broken for you." Jesus, while still healthy says he will be/is willing to be broken for you. Her liturgy calls to mind the hymn in Philippians where Paul writes that "[Jesus] took the form of a slave."  The Son of God entered disability when "not counting equality with God something to be grasped," when becoming willing to take on human form.

Not all identiify with their disabiity or care to--but when turning to the theology of the disabled God we all, as Christians can. No matter how healthy our habits or beneficial our genetics, if we grow old enough we will experience disability and helplessness--"complete," as St. Paul says, "the sufferings of Christ."

So what are we to make of the healings as sign of the Messianic Age?

The American Disabilities Act of 1990 has affirmed the civil rights model of disability advocacy, declaring disabled persons official minority status. We have all benefited from the act whether from wheelchair at the airport or additional facilities and attention at school.
The political work of reognizing rights for minorities is work of healing, and that healing is bringing the Kingdom "by little and by little."

The other side of access FOR the disabled is access TO the disabled--the different voices we now hear speaking where before these voices were denied or unheard or punished. The mute are speaking. Hearing diverse narratives is equally healing work--and perhaps we are just at the beginning having our ears unstopped, so as to receive Good News.


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