Life With The Mentally Handicapped Pt.2

I live within two worlds. One world is liven in a pseudo-chaos. It is marked by people who are willing to cut others off in order to arrive somewhere two minutes sooner. That world abides by the belief that “time is money.” That world is addicted to achievement, success, and ambition. The other world I live in peaceful. It is marked by an understanding that I am here for you, in this place, until this gets completed. This world is not frantic. I do not like to compartmentalize my life, but the first place is the world that I live in, and the second place is the world that I work in.

I have tried to accommodate the world that I live in with the practices of the world that I work in. I work in an environment with four mentally handicapped men where it might take forty-five minutes to go to the bathroom. I work within an environment where I might have to ask someone several times over half an hour to get out of bed. This environment includes struggles with most of the basic hygienic maintenance. And, in this place, there is time. When I am with these men, they are not worried about the time. They’re not worried about how much they get done today. They care about whether or not John Cena wins on WWE Monday Night Raw. They care about whether someone answers the phone when they call. They aren’t worried about whether they eat at five or at six. They are at peace with their environment (for the most part) because they make time. There is always more time. This is what mentally handicapped people have to say to the Church and to the world. There is time. The world will not end. Don’t forget about what is really important.

As he often does, Stanley Hauerwas says it so well, “We live by slowing down and saying with our lives that the world will not be saved by frantic activity. If time has already been redeemed by Jesus, we learn to wait on the salvation of the Lord by taking time to listen to our weakest members.”

When we learn that time is not the obstacle, things like prayer don’t become such an issue. We’re comfortable with God’s time. Time is a large issue in our ability to endure silence and pain because we cannot imagine when they will end. We cannot possible become a friend of God’s until we learn to become a friend to time. In this way, the mentally handicapped are truly our prophets for this modern age.


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