How great are you?

I wrote the paragraphs below thirteen years ago. The memory contained remains sweet.

I met a dark-haired elf tonight. Loved him on sight.

The enchanting child of God sat atop of his crossed legs in a miniature wheelchair, his hands stroking the air as though petting a kitten. His curious narrow face ended in a pointed chin, and a suggestion of a moustache tinged his upper lip. Even his ears resembled something from a Brothers Grim fairy tale.

He watched my approach with interest, his mouth working furiously. The nearer I came, the faster his hands moved, until they gestured vibrato. He made no noise, but his breath expelled quick and shallow.

I knelt. “Hi, Ian!* (name changed). I’m Kathleen.” Wonder flitting across his face, he folded my outstretched hand in both of his. Rubbed it quickly and dropped it.

As long as I stayed with him, he kept doing that. Touching my hands, lacing his fingers through mine, stroking whichever part of me he could reach. Plucking off my glasses, tossing them on the floor. Sliding his fingers beneath my sweater clear up my arm to the elbow, probing. When I bent my head, he rubbed my hair.

His caregiver explained, laughing, “Ian’s extremely tactile. Very much a hand-man.”

Ian’s disabled existence comes by order of fallen nature and by nature of fallen order. A missing chromosome—#4, precisely. Tousled genes. Rebellious cells. Straying synapses. He has Wulf Syndrome. It affects one in every 50,000 births. Few of those babies survive to Ian’s twenty-six years.

They would abort infants like Ian before they’re born, those who think they know better than God. He has no words. He will remain always a child-man, always wear diapers, always need tube-feeding, transporting, maintaining.

By most standards, Ian contributes zero to the world at large—he can be nothing, ever, but a taker. But when God knit Ian together in his mother’s womb, when he conceived him in his mind, this was not his plan.

Thankfully, our Creator reserves the trump card over nature. He always reserves the trump card. To Ian he gave a far different destiny than you or me. He has allowed him a most vital role. Ian and people like him are both refinery and repository for the most stellar examples of human love and selfless service—mandatory qualifications for genuine greatness.

Those who care for him. Those who love him. Those who teach him. All who give of themselves to meet his needs: Can Ian give anything back to them? He can indeed. For Ian, simply by being, assists others to lose their preoccupation with self.

When Jesus said that whatever we do for the lowest of the low, we do for him, he included Ian. Those who serve the helpless, who meet their needs with love and compassion, serve Christ, and in serving, become like Christ. Only great people can do that.

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