Friday, May 24, 2013

Lead, Not Diamonds, on the Soles of Her Shoes

            Remember those ridiculous inflatable punching clowns you bought for your kids when they were young? They were so much fun because they never stayed down! That goofy red-lipped clown would bounce right back up in your face, ready for the next punch! Hold that image in your mind while I tell you about Bonnie.

        Bonnie was a student in my Minneapolis classroom. She was born with cerebral palsy and was also intellectually challenged. She was a tall and very slim wisp of a girl. When she wore green, she resembled a blade of grass...that's how thin she was. And the height, from my point of view, is always an advantage. At 5'9", I always tell people I would rather be taller than shorter.
       For Bonnie, her height was a distinct disadvantage.  It made her beanpole-like frame even more unstable than it normally would have been. Her muscular control, because of her condition, gave Bonnie a wobbly and teetering gait. She had been unable to walk without tipping over until she was about five years old. Her wise parents decided to try a technique that would keep her out of a wheelchair for the rest of her life; they put lead weights on the bottom of her shoes.
      As you know, lead is extremely heavy. One cubic inch weighs over one-third of a pound. So, a piece of lead about the size of a standard dry-erase marker would weigh a pound. That's a hefty marker! Now, imagine having someone put about four pounds of lead on the bottom of each of your shoes. It would surely slow you down, but it would also be terribly difficult to tip you over!
       Picture this tall, very thin girl, taking slow steps with heavy weights on the bottom of her shoes. She still rocked side to side, appearing as though she might tip over, but she never did. The way Bonnie was able to drag her iron-soled saddle shoes across the floor made it seem as though the floor was magnetized. Gravity was her friend as she lurched forward. Bonnie never complained, even though each step was obviously a monumental struggle. She was upright and independently mobile; mission accomplished. To paraphrase Paul Simon's song:

She's got lead on the soles of her shoes.
Well, that's one way to lose 
These walking blues.
Lead on the soles of your shoes. 

       Problem solved! End of this brief blog?  Not quite.

       The heaviness of Bonnie's shoes make me think of the weight of whatever it is that holds each of us in our "place"; our "anchor", so to speak. What keeps us from toppling over and crashing to the floor? I like to think I'm "grounded", but when I really pause for a moment, I start to consider the possibilities. Am I?  It feels like it.
        Seldom, if ever, do I get that overwhelmed feeling that used to come when I was younger. When I thought I had to say "yes" to everyone else. When I thought I had to do everything by myself and when it all had to be done perfectly. Oh yeah...that kind of thinking is not an's more like a ball and chain. Now, I have become more like that silly clown who never stays down.

        What grounds me now is simple....a family I adore, a job I love, and knowing I am a child of God.
It's just that basic. Although your "lead" may be something different than mine, usually simpler is better. 
Almost as easy as putting lead on the bottom of a teetering young lady's shoes. Who knew?  What anchors you?