I passed a lady in the hall the other day at work. It is always pleasant passing by this individual because it seems she always shares a smile and hello. This person at one time had a stroke, and the affects though diminished over time are still evident. I have seen her many times over the years but this time I remember thinking “how can someone that has such a physical challenge to everyday life stay so happy”? There is another person at work who has a birth defect that makes walking obviously cumbersome. I saw him later that same day. He too always has a smile and hello, and for lack of a better way to describe it, his eyes are always bright and full of life. Again it made me think about how someone facing challenges beyond the norm be so happy? The answer that came to me seems so obvious and perhaps one I think I have always known, but this time, I understood more deeply. The answer was the spirit is bigger than the body. Our spirit outperforms the physical. We hear so often happiness is a choice, or happiness comes from what you make of your circumstances. This is all true, but it would be useless unless the truth is that our spirit is bigger than our physical, temporal circumstances. I sometimes wonder if I would have the same will power and strength of spirit if I had such impairments. I would like to think I would, but I can not say for sure. I am not saying my troubles are not real, nor less than anothers. However, I do feel those who deal with what we consider disabilities, impairments or potentially devastating life events are stronger than me. They provide me with inspiration and strength, serving as incentive to strengthen my spirit. Those who believe there is a power greater than them that they can lean on, have an avenue of hope and assistance beyond temporal science and medicine. For those who do not have this belief, their road is more challenged but often come away with a better understanding that we do not have full control of our lives and I believe are more apt to search for that bigger spirit and its source.
Do I have a role in another’s spirtual growth? You betcha. Perhaps I intiated a smile to one of the aforementioned colleagues at work who at the time was feeling despair. Perhaps I reached out to someone when they felt alone. Maybe you go to daily Mass and it unknowingly inspires someone. At times you may even feel your faith is lost or lacking, but your struggle to grow gives another incentive to challenge themselves. Part of the beauty of this life given to us is that we are all interconnected in spirit. Young or old, rich or poor, crass or compassionate…we all have the capacity to touch the lives of those around us.
There is always hope, everyone can grow in spirit and God’s hand is perpetually reaching out for each of us, regardless of where we stand. If we allow ourselves to spiritually look into God’s eyes, I believe we would see compassion, acceptance and mercy. In God’s gaze there is love beyond what we can comprehend, let alone describe.