As Christians approach Good Friday and Easter where we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, I am reminded of the startling new insight that Nancy Eiesland gave me in her book, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability (Abingdon Press, 1994). In that book, Eiesland made me see the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus in a new way.
Reflecting on how the gospels describe Jesus’ resurrected body as carrying the scars on his hands and feet where the nails were driven into, and the scar on his side where the spear pierced, Eiesland asks, “What is the significance of the resurrected Christ’s display of impaired hands and feet and side? Are they the disfiguring vestiges of sin? Are they to be subsumed under the image of Christ, death conqueror? Or should the disability of Christ be understood as the truth of incarnation and the promise of resurrection?” (p. 101)
As I write this post, it is December 3 the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I am ashamed to say that before my youngest daughter was born with Down Syndrome, I was totally ignorant of this day. I just did not know there was such a day to remember, celebrate and advocate for persons with disabilities. These days, I am more aware and alert to these things. I start seeing news and life a little differently. In fact, I am even doing theology differently. I read the Bible with a little more awareness of how it may speak to issues of disabilities. I am beginning to think through Christian doctrines to see if they are inclusive or exclusive of persons with disabilities. In short, my thinking and seeing has become more inclusive. Some of my previous blind spots have been removed. My daughter’s disability has changed me, and is continuing to change me, for the better. It is one of her many gifts to me.