spinal-cord injury

Another Day in Paradise: Spirit and flesh

Thursday – After a marathon watching of Kill Bill 1 & 2 with my 16 year old son Jeremy, the day before, today was a much more spiritual day. It started out with a visit from my colleagues and friends, Chris Simon and David Parker. We met in the little hospital chapel, since Chris had come as a priest, purple stole and all, to administer communion, bless me and pray for my healing. Chris is an Anglican Priest with a High Church background who was baptised in the Spirit (tongues and all!) during the 70’s and who thereafter was the Pastor of a Charismatic Anglican Church. I have the privilege and joy of working with him at Alphacrucis College. David Parker is everyone’s favourite New Testament lecturer and I’m sure needs no introduction from me.

We followed the formal liturgy and had the joy of a three way sharing of communion – wafers and real wine mixed with water (There was a reason for the mixing of water and wine, but it eludes me right now…). Beyond this I cannot really describe the time we had. It is hard to explain the simple joy of three friends in prayer.

7.30 that evening I attended Thursday night Mass at the Catholic Church across the road from the Hospital. The service was celebrating the Passover meal of Jesus with His disciples the night before the crucifixion. The church was beautiful and the ceremony full of rich symbolism, including the Priest stripping his robes and washing the feet of 12 members of the congregation in memory of Jesus’ act of servanthood to His disciples. This was only my second experience of a Catholic service and I enjoyed it’s beauty and rich tradition. I did feel a little out of place. As a pentecostal I am simply not used to robes and candles, to bell ringing and incense. More than this, I’m just not used to being a lone wheelie in a public place. I am ushered through the side of the building by the priest and given a seat near the front. My chair is tall and I cannot hide in my seat. During the Eucharist (communion) I have at least ten people offer to bring me the meal. Not being a Catholic I decline, and find my way out of the building. Perhaps I am not yet ready for a service such as this, but it was beautiful and I sensed the Spirit’s presence.

Back to the hospital and into bed, only to be woken at midnight by doctors and nurses yelling at a patient in my room (I have lost my private room and now share a four person ward). Apparently Ahmed had taken an overdose of pain medication. My problem was that the yelling, swearing and machines beeping kept me awake for hours. I felt like climbing out of my bed and shoving a pillow on his head. Good thing I was immobile. A very unspiritual and ungracious ending to the day. Proof I needed to be reminded of the meaning of the Good Friday crucifixion.

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on

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