Lately a video (produced back in 2004) has been making the rounds on social media highlighting the artistic ability of Paul Smith from Philadelphia, PA. He had severe spastic cerebral palsy yet made the most of his abilities, and at the Rose Haven nursing home he found a community that valued and appreciated not only his God-given gifts but who he was as a person.
A helpful exercise, whenever we hear of people’s gifts and abilities, is to think through how they might be welcomed in our faith communities. Many churches and faith communities do not have a strong emphasis on art other than in the form of musical worship. How would Paul’s gift be incorporated into the life of your community? Is there a place for it? Would a place be made for it?
Obviously, the welcome of the person takes precedence to the gifts or abilities of that person, but one of the ways we can best welcome anyone is to recognize and appreciate the gifts they bring to community.
Paul has passed away now, and you can visit the archived web page of his foundation, but there are over seven billion people in the world who are like him, looking for places to belong and to have their unique contributions welcomed.