Newsletter – March, 2000

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 2, No. 3 March 2000

Curing or caring? Which is most important? I have some thoughts to share on that in this month’s Companion Resources Newsletter. Thanks for coming along on our journey to build community!

A most unusual envelope arrived in the mail the other day. It came in the midst of our packing up our belongings and getting ready to move on to new adventures. These two events set me to thinking about curing and caring.

The envelope was addressed to “The Leichty Family” and came from a person and address in a neighboring state that I didn’t recognize. The envelope itself was made of a kind of filmy clear plastic that allows one to peek in on the contents. Inside was an invitation booklet consisting of several pages, tied together with an elegant-looking bow with the cover of the same plastic material. The invitation was to a “Gala” to raise money for research to cure a leading cause of disabilities. The event is sponsored by an organization that is highly respected and which our family has supported with some token contributions.

The gala itself features celebrities that I recognized in the roles of Master of Ceremonies, Special Artist, and Special Guest and Speaker. It was all very impressive, especially the price! A nice thought, I told myself, but far more money than I could afford. Besides, I don’t have the “Black Tie Preferred.”

Instead of the upward mobility required to attend such an event, we find that we are scaling down in these days. We are selling or giving away furniture and books, and we are sorting through mounds of paper and giving the folks at the recycling center plenty of business. Our two-story, three-bedroom house is on the market and we are preparing to move into a small two-bedroom apartment.

We are scaling down precisely because we care about persons affected by this and similar causes of disabilities. We are not really giving up all that much, because our new apartment is attached to a modest common living area. On the other side of that living area are three bedrooms for three young men with disabilities for whom we will be live-in caregivers. It is an arrangement that challenges me to truly live out caring for others in community.

Would I like to see these disabilities cured? Certainly! However, I have to ask myself at what cost. The fine organization that wants our family at its gala event is trying to raise thousands and millions of dollars to put into the latest high-tech medical efforts at a cure. At the same time, there are reportedly 6,000 people on a waiting list in our state alone waiting for basic care, particularly housing. My wife and I can care for three of them. When our new community is fully developed, it will still allow only 24 persons with disabilities to interact regularly with two to four dozen other persons. Clearly, our efforts are a drop in the bucket.

Yet, I am happy to put my life into the “caring” efforts. Perhaps all of the money will eventually bring some cures, but right now, I know there are real people right around me who will never benefit even if those cures come, but need the kind of healing that comes with caring. I’m glad there are persons who put their money as well as their lives into caring as well as curing.

We live in a society that wants quick fixes for everything. Unfortunately, our yearning for a fix sometimes diverts the dollars to a relative handful of professionals who appear to have the ability to create this fix.

Certainly, any parent with a child with disabilities would like see that child live a normal life. At the same time, families struggle as much with the social effects as with the disability itself. The struggles are with questions of housing, employment, socialization, and religious opportunities for those who are different right now. If we as a society could learn to accept and live with differences, we might find that genuine healing and real community come not so much from the attempt to “fix” everyone to be “normal” as from valuing the differences and learning to live interdependently in a community where everyone can offer their gifts.

That is what our family hopes to do more fully in the months and years to come. I trust that you will also find ways to be companions in the communities in which you live.

Until next month, may God bless you with the true healing of those who care!

Paul D. Leichty

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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