Edward and I are both home sick this morning. A good time for him to catch up on some ‘Sound of Music’ movie watching. Nothing stranger than hearing him sing, “The hills are alive…” between episodes of wretching into a pail. For me, its time to read a month’s worth of backed up journal articles and email. Right now I’m reading a CARDUS piece on how we can see the image of God in people with intellectual disabilities. Timely.
At one point in the article the writer asks, “How do the intellectually disabled image God?” And then responds by saying, “Via the immediacy, totality & graciousness of their reponse to others.” God is never guarded with us, he gives all of himself to us, and his presence always invites and never demands. This perfectly describes Edward. Because he is so unguarded, I can pour my love into him. When he give of himself so wholeheartedly, I’m freed up to respond in kind. His inate grace – never expecting, always patient, with no strings attached – inspires and releases me.
Later on in the article, the writer makes the point that the intellectually disabled also image God in their ability to befriend others. “People with profound intellectual disabilities can also befriend God in turn in response to divine initiative, through mutual responsiveness to the friends that God has provided.” These words shook me deeply. Often I’ve wondered about Edward’s ability to love God, to choose to love God. For the most part my neo-Calvinism has kept the question at bay… what matters is that God chooses him! I believe this to be true, but still…
But then I encounter this new thought in this article; that Edward expresses love to God by loving the people God has gifted him with. How beautiful is that? Even as all humanity needed the incarnate, flesh and blood, God-with-us person of Christ, to fully apprehend God, the intellectually disabled need the same. Not just to get who God is, but also as the means via which they respond to God.
I’m not sure that Edward can ever comprehend all that is so mysterious and abstract about God. But he did know his love last night as his mom washed him up, changed his sheets, and held a pail to his mouth for hours. And he did respond to his heavenly Father, even as he willingly leaned his aching body into his dad’s embracing arms.