This is the first of a series of weekly blogs inspired by my favorite podcast from Father Mike Schmitz. I introduced this series in my recent blog It Takes Courage in this World.
As Father Mike explained in his podcast, much of life demands courage. The everyday sort of courage. The kind that gets you out of bed to go to work even when you don’t know the ultimate outcome of your presentation. Or a young swimmer to jump off the blocks for the first time. To plunge into the deep end of life without exactly knowing how to compete or even get to the other side. This one image – a young kid learning how to swim and compete for the first time – got me to thinking about one of the bravest people that I know – my cousin Sean. Every day for Sean is a plunge into the unknown, a world that he does not fully understand. But each day he faces that world armed with the love of his parents and brother.
Sean was born with a neurological disorder of the brain and nervous system that has severally impacted his mental development and confined him to a wheelchair from birth. At 26, he cannot walk, speak, or read a book, but that has not stop him in fulfilling his purpose in the world – to show God’s love and smile. He goes camping, school each day and even has gone to Disney World to see his favorite character – Minnie Mouse. Thinking about that, I started to marvel at what courage that takes for Sean. Unlike the swimmer who takes the blocks for the first time, I am not sure Sean understands where he will end up when he takes the plunge. How scary it must be when he wakes up at night on occasion and does not see his nurturing parents nearby. It is more apparent to see the courage of his parents and brother who care for him, feed him, clothe him and calms his fears. But it is equally brave for Sean to face a world he little understands to bring out a smile and share his love. Here is a picture of Sean with Minnie and Mickie.
I have not had the pleasure to see Sean that often having moved from my hometown in New Jersey to Texas. But the times that I have seen him directly, I was awed in his trust in others and his ability to reflect his family’s love. I will remember always the time I met him face to face for the first time at Mike and Donna’s house in Bordentown. He did not know me but undeterred crawled over and showed me his Minnie Mouse and toys with a smile. Again when I visited in 2015 with my wife and daughter, Sean was there with a ready smile to meet some new people and show us his joy.
Indeed, it sometimes takes courage in this life to show God’s smile and reflect the love of your family. Thank you Sean for showing us always this love.