I have a first-born son Who is severely disabled But he brings great gifts to me.
He brings to my life Sweetness. He looks at me. He fully accepts me as I am. He knows what love is And because of him I do, too.
He brings to my life Focus. He points my life in new directions. He opens doors I hadn’t seen. I cannot heal my son But I can look where he points. I can go through doors he opens And I do.
He brings to my life A new pace. Because of him I walk more slowly. I walk more humanly in a fallen world.
My son brings to my life An abundance of God’s grace. He is a means of grace to me. He makes me more aware of my blessings. He will not let me ignore the grief of others.
All of these gifts I would gladly exchange For a whole son but that is not mine to choose.
I may choose to thank God And my son and I do.
—Cherry Winkle Moore, 1990
In 1990 I was invited to an event at The Sunday School Board, then the name of the publishing house of The Southern Baptist Convention.The two-day event was for people how wrote for the Special Education section then led by Gene Nabi.
On the first night a pastor whose church included many people who had disabilities spoke on the topic “What People Who Have Disabilities Bring to the Church.”I had been thinking about this topic myself.At one point he posed a rhetorical question that was his title.I almost raised my hand…but he went on to tell us some things he had come to believe about the topic.I liked what he had to say.
The next morning I woke up with this poem fully formed in my brain.I shared it later with someone at the meeting and was invited to read it to the group.
But something was wrong with the poem.
I had vowed to myself that I would never write a poem that maintained that Lew’s disabilities were a gift from God.LEW was a gift but, I believe, his disabilities happened because of the fallen state of the world – not God’s specific choice.Some might say this is a distinction without a difference but for me it is important.(How could I love and serve a God who would choose to disable my child?It happened.God choose to stay with us and comfort us and suffer with us.God did all that God could do.)
The original poem was about the gifts of Lew’s life and contained nothing about the pain.Later I added the second-to-last section that says:
All of these gifts I would gladly exchange For a whole child But that is not mine to choose.
Even that is not exactly what I wanted to say.That came later in “The Poem I Said I Would Never Write” but at least it made it possible for me to send the poem out into the world.
It is still one of my favorites. I offer it to you.
Cherry Winkle Moore is a visual artist and a retired hospice chaplain. Cherry has a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting, drawing and printmaking from the University of Alabama. Later she completed a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in pastoral care. Cherry sometimes says that in her case the MFA stands for Minister of Fine Arts and the MDiv stands for Making Divine Images Visible.View All Post