Musings from the Manse

Dear Friends,

Rev Helen Higgin-Botham

Being a relatively active person, it was with some dismay that I found myself having a period of ‘enforced rest’ towards the end of January. This was due to an existing problem with my knee being exacerbated by a loss of balance one morning as I stepped into the shower, and the twisting of said knee!

‘Knee’d-less to say, after a trip to A&E, I found myself with time on my hands, and inability to get about without the aid of crutches, and a new found respect and admiration for those who find getting around a challenge.

It amazed me just how much I had taken my own mobility for granted. Suddenly not being able to pop upstairs for whatever I’d forgotten to bring down, became a particular sore point. And the fact that I had to totally rely on my daughter/husband to fetch and carry for me, made me appreciate them in a new light. Seeing something out of place on the coffee table or mantelpiece had to simply be put out of my mind, or else I faced having to explain why I needed things moving or tidied away (Which seemed totally irrelevant when voiced!)

But the greatest, humbling revelation came to me when, after a couple of weeks, I managed a trip to the supermarket – with daughter Charlotte and partner Patrick coming along to supervise! I quickly realised that struggling around the aisles on crutches was not going to be possible – so after a quick consultation with Customer Services and the exchange of a £2 coin for a Key – I was unceremoniously ‘parked’ in a Mobility Scooter.

I followed the instructions, got the green light, but found that my scooter was not going anywhere. Fortunately, with the help of an elderly gentleman and his wife (who had come to use the scooter next to me) who explained that it needed to be ‘unplugged’ from the power socket on the wall, I set off, though rather falteringly at first, but with greater confidence as I mastered my new found freedom.

You’ll be pleased to hear that I did not crash into anyone or anything! In fact, pretty soon, I was zooming around the aisles like a pro’.

However, something rather alarming became very apparent to me…..I may have felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, but to my fellow shoppers I became almost invisible.

People simply steered their trolleys as if I didn’t exist – and several times I had to stop in order to avoid a collision. Being below their eye-level had rendered me undetectable it seemed, and actually asking for assistance became something I avoided – seeking out Charlotte instead – who incidentally found the whole debacle quite amusing!

Now that I am ‘upright’ once more, and able to get about under my own steam, I find myself reflecting on the past few weeks with some concern. In conversations with others who have more permanent limited mobility, I find that my experience is not uncommon.  Many of those who are wheelchair bound find themselves ignored or ‘talked over’ – those who have to take their time walking to and from places find that the more able-bodied become quickly impatient when they can’t get out of the way quickly. What a sad reflection on humanity this is. Rather than make allowances we’ve become intolerant. Rather than being more willing to assist, we’ve become ignorant.

Of course, not everyone reflects this way of being – and I did find that there were some who positively went out of their way to see if I needed help. So now, freedom regained, I find that I appreciate my mobility as I did not always do before – and I find myself respecting those who resolutely hang onto to theirs, no matter what!

Yours in Christ,

Helen

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