Saturday, July 11, 2009

Disability and Shoes

What in the world could shoes have to do with disability and people affected by disability?

Recently the news in Pittsburgh has followed a disabled Ohio man's story. Apparently he arrived by plane at Pittsburgh International a week ago. No one was there to pick him up due to miscommunication issues. SO he took off on his own walking. He walked 18 miles into Pittsburgh and has apparently been living on the streets until yesterday when a policeman recognized him near a convenience store. In the interim he has done a LOT of walking! The man is now home again in Ohio safe and sound.

The news article about his being found talked about his black dress shoes, no socks and blisters from so much walking. The man wasn't complaining but apparently doesn't plan to do much walking except next door to see his neighbor for some time to come. I was impressed that this disabled man has such an incredible attitude about his swollen, sore feet as sore feet make me cranky! His statement to the police officer (and the condition of his feet) was that his feet were swollen and blistered from all the walking, in black dress shoes and without socks, but that they didn't hurt.

At A Restoration Church we have a very good friend who is also disabled. He had an encounter with another disabled man on the street in a small community near Pittsburgh where both of these men live. The other man actually took off my friend's shoes and socks on the street. He didn't steal the socks and shoes but just apparently has some kind of fascination with feet. The local police know this "shoe man" well. They said he tries to take their shoes off, too.

Who would think of shoes as a disability issue - especially a social issue? My friend has a very good attitude about his own encounter with the "shoe man." My friend now understands that there is a healthy boundary to draw about his own shoes, socks and the "shoe man" or anyone else. In fact he calls the "shoe man" "Triple F" (translation: "Foot Fetish Freddy")!

At A Restoration Church we really care about people affected by disability. We particularly and intentionally want to love these dear folks with the love of Jesus. We want to reach out to them with the hands and heart of Jesus in practical ways. Apparently that includes shoes! Who would think it?

Obviously there are therapeutic, medically related issues regardidng shoes and disability for folks who are paralyzed, etc. but who would think there are social and safety issues as well?

The lesson in these stories is that I have a lot to learn about this HUGE area of caring about people affected by disability. God is teaching me and the rest of us at A Restoration Church some things we can learn from our disabled friends! That's a good thing!

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