Yesterday offered an incredible first-hand experience and lesson in perspective.
I had the incredible fortune of shadowing a good friend who works as a physical therapist at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital offering medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injury. There truly are no words to adequately describe what I experienced yesterday, nor can I disclose much information, as I am bound by confidentiality. However, I can celebrate the power of hope, grace, determination, and faith that I witnessed.
In a spit second, life can change forever. A car accident…a fall from a ladder…a routine bike ride…
Life changes, but it is by no means over, and Shepherd is in the business of HOPE and moving forward, enabling its patients to rehabilitate, reenter, and enjoy a world as functional, capable, and contributing citizens.
The cases of spinal cord injury that I saw ranged from nearly complete to partial paralysis, and each patient was confined to a chair. For their therapy sessions, there was such patience and flexibility involved on behalf of the physical therapist, but there was also essential encouragement lined with tough love, push, and challenge. The goals of each therapy session involved tasks like sitting up, bending forward while seated, touching toes, getting out of bed, and rolling over — the “automatic” movements of life that seem so rote, so involuntary, so simple for us who are blessed with full function. However, from the perspective of these patients, these movements will involve every fiber of their being, day after day, and they will have to fight — whether it be through pain, disbelief of their current, altered reality, potential anger, fear, or utter exhaustion. And yet, THEY FIGHT. Their furrowed brows, pursed lips, deep moans, and tightly shut eyes emitted a courage I have never seen before and brought tears streaming down my face.
Interestingly, on Monday evening (and every opportunity since the Opening Ceremonies) I was glued to Olympic athletes donning their talents, skills, and incredible abilities with determination and courage — and with very able, chiseled bodies that often made me gasp in astonishment. In contrast, yesterday, I shared time with another kind of hero — donning another brand of courage that I will never forget. We must not forget.
Today, may we give thanks in ALL circumstances and for ALL God’s beautiful children. Tuesday’s shadowing viewpoint brought to light all that I have and am able to do and also reminded me of those courageous hearts who live life so vulnerably, yet with such determination, such fight, such hope. Thank you, beautiful folks at Shepherd Center, for inspiring me to be present this day, offer gratitude, and see God’s amazing grace…everywhere.