Having a physical disability makes me vulnerable when I am out and about. I can’t out-run you. I can’t run more than a few paces. I can be knocked off my feet by the slightest unevenness in the pavement, and pushed to the floor with the gentlest of effort. When I am travelling, I feel even more vulnerable. On top of the above, I am going to be weighed down with baggage (which either I can barely lift one-handed onto my back, or which has to be trundled along by my only working hand) and I’m even more easily unbalanced. I’m likely to be carrying more valuables, too. Passport for a start.
The long and the short of this, is that I am constantly reliant on others not to take advantage of that vulnerability. And when I travel alone, I am reliant on others’ help to get around. I ignore the signs at the airport that tell me that I “may only take onboard cabin baggage that [I] can lift into the cabin”. I trust that someone will help me lift my bag. That the sign doesn’t mean to discriminate, even though it feels like it does. I look to others to lend a hand, when I’m trying to lift my bag onto my back, or to get off a train.
Looking back, there has always been someone there. Even on the most desolate station in the middle of the Peak District, there was someone to help me carry my case of research instruments across the bridge, as the only way over the railway line. Yet still, every time I journey out, I feel physically vulnerable. I still feel it, even though I have made it to Padova, and around Padova, and strangers are *always* there when I need help.
Some things are easier here. Stair-less escalators are great. But I don’t speak Italian. Yet, there is someone there. R. is sharing my office. She is visiting from the US for a few months, and has some Italian, and she helped me round the supermarket (think: juggling act). R. is lovely and friendly, and we had “gelati”.
God *always* puts people around me, who meet me where I most need help. Not just physically, that’ one battle, for sure, but emotionally, too, I turn around, and there is someone there, even if it’s just to save me from being alone with my thoughts for a while. God always knows what I need. Even when I feel most vulnerable, and lonely, help comes in the kindness of strangers. I can’t often see that as events unfold, as I’m lost in panic and worry. But He’s there for me, in others. He looks after me. Always.