I first saw Gloria when I was in the second grade. She was a small fragile child with light blonde hair. Her skin was so translucent, you could see the blue veins in her face. She was partially deaf and had a large hearing aid attached to her head behind her ear. When she spoke, she was hard to understand as she did not enunciate her words like the other children. Because she was so delicate, she did not participate in games during recess.
I felt bad for Gloria but didn’t know how to express my feelings. One day when I walked into the girl’s restroom, she was at the sink washing her hands. She shyly smiled at me and I returned the smile. I watched her reach for the paper towels with difficulty. Her plight touched my heart. At six years old, I didn’t know what to say to her. When she left the restroom, I went into the stall and started crying. She was a delicate child, a special child with lots of problems, that struggled with even the most basic tasks. Gloria was only in my class for a few more weeks. I don’t know if she moved or was placed in a different class because I never saw her again. I do know that I will never forget her and that I owe her a debt of gratitude for opening a well of compassion inside of me.
When I think about her, I think about her name. Gloria’s name is from the Latin meaning glory or glorious. Some see the glory of God in a star athlete who can run fast or climb a high mountain. When I look at an athlete with those kinds of accomplishments, I see the glory of man. Conversely, when I look at a child with a disability, I see the glory of God. He is the One that gives that special child the strength to struggle through each day and night. He gives the child joy and thankfulness for the simple accomplishments we all take for granted.
Gloria, wherever you are, you changed my life and I will always be grateful to you.
“And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40.
Image by BenFilm. Courtesy of Pixabay.