This is the third entry in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2016 series. This devotional reflection comes from Dr. Jimmy Watson Pastor if Immanuel UCC in Ferguson, Missouri.. This devotional reflects the views of the author and not the views of UCCDM.
“Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)
These days we talk much about privilege. White, male, heterosexual privilege. The privilege of wealth, height, and beauty. The list is long and yet not long enough to include my 20-year-old stepdaughter who was born with mental disabilities, including finding a spot on the autism spectrum. Megan’s only privilege is that she will live most, if not all, of her life in close proximity to her family. She will never, however, enjoy the privileges of meaningful work or marriage and raising children. For Megan, the operative word is “limitation” rather than “imitation.”
Most of us seek to imitate those who have been successful in one way or another, even when we do not have the same privileged starting point. We want to imitate those with successful careers or those who have significant talents, even when the odds are stacked against us because of our family of origin, limited resources, or lack of acumen or natural abilities.
Megan’s attempts to imitate those who are an example of how to live is limited to very simple tasks such as sweeping floors, wiping off countertops, and making her bed in the morning—tasks that give her enormous satisfaction and a taste of wholeness.
While most people would not consider imitating those with physical and mental limitations, I have learned in my brief stint as Megan’s stepparent that she sets an example for the rest of us in ways that the privileged are hesitant to admit: utter humility without a speck of pomposity, no desire to leave a heavy carbon footprint on the environment, a childlike curiosity that knows no limitations, and finally, an unconditional love for her family, friends, and caretakers with a default setting of forgiveness.
There is no arrogance, materialism, close-mindedness, or grudges in Megan’s world. It is a world of wonder, love, and simplicity. Knowing her has been a true privilege.
Prayer—Dear God, we might be limited in who we are called to imitate, so we give thanks for those souls who offer us examples of how to be human in ways that never crossed our privileged minds. Amen.