A series of articles in Living with the Scriptures discuss what can be learned from the failures we experience in life. The first article is about Peter and Stephani, two young adults nearing the age of 40, with congenital cerebral palsy. Stephani, more seriously impaired, is not able to use her hands and feet.
Years ago Peter had asked a Religious Sister in his parish to introduce him to a good woman. She introduced him to two women, one of whom was Stephani, who he fell in love with at first sight. This was not the case with Stephani. She had no desire for marriage; the possibility of friendship yes, but not marriage. On the day they met Peter only stayed briefly, said he was busy and left.
Stephani's parents were adamantly opposed. Their daughter was not able to use her hands and was in no position to be a wife to anyone. She wasn't able to prepare meals and had even difficulty in eating. No husband would be able to live with this for long, even though Peter assured them that he would take care of the cooking.
A handicapped child are the parents biggest suffering. Everybody in the family feels the pain. The handicapped have the great difficulty of accepting their plight, and often reproach themselves, their parents and even God. Peter had tried to kill himself, and, though Stephani's spiritual life was strong, she also reproached God, which is not surprising.
As children they saw that their future was going to be difficult. Being the butt of jokes when growing up was the hardest to accept. Jesus' cross only lasted a short period of time but their agony continues for life. Peter also said that when Jesus was tortured by the Romans he even took pleasure in the thought, but he quickly realized that Jesus did not reproach his torturers. 'Falling and getting up again," Peter said, has been their life from the beginning.
The article concludes with the words of another disabled couple, whose life was made into a documentary, Planet of Snail. The husband, who was both deaf and blind, said "I am closing my eyes to see the most valuable things. I am closing my ears to hear the most beautiful sounds. I am waiting in silence to speak the most truthful words."