This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of disabled children. Did you ever wonder how these women were chosen?
Somehow I visualise God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation, with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint...Cecilia."
"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a child with a disabilty."
The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."
"Exactly. Could I give a child with a disability a mother who doesn't know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But does she have patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she'll drown in a sea of self pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today, she has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she believes in you."
God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."
The angel gasps. "Selfishness, is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes she is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realise it yet but she is to be envied."
"She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says 'Mummy' for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. When she describes a tree or sunset to her child, she will see it as few people see my creations."
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice... and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is there by my side."
"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised mid air.
God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."