by Judy Jones
If you're concerned about innocent children being terrorized
by the debilitating fear that they're in danger of an "eternal hell" when
they grow up, please read this article
No Hell in the Bible before
"He died because he was black," Joni told me.
"What do you mean," I asked.
"Harold, Harold was only ten years old in the polio ward of the hospital I was in, but he was in a separate ward, the one for 'colored children'; this was the 1950's you know."
"Well Harold went home for Christmas like many of us kids in the ward, but when he came back, the hospital had admitted another child to the colored section and there were no more iron lungs except in the white ward. They wouldn't let Harold use one and he died."
"Oh," I answered, tears running down my cheeks.
"When I first got polio and the ambulance was taking me to the hospital, I was eleven years old, and I knew, I mean I really knew, it was gonna be bad, that what was wrong with me was horrible, and I started to pray 'Thy Will be Done.'"
"And thus began my 60 years in this machine called an Iron Lung."
"When I finally got out of the hospital when I was 35, I took me and my iron lung and got an apartment and put myself through college. I even got a car especially designed for me to drive with my crippled legs and arms."
"And then my life came to an abrupt halt, and I knew, just like I did in that ambulance when I was eleven years old, I knew this time whatever was wrong would not end for the rest of my days."
"What was wrong Joni?"
"I had Post Polio Syndrome. And Dr. Jonas Salk didn't want to hear anything about us, fearing it might bring down his name since he was known as the doctor that cured polio thru his vaccine."
"You see Post Polio Syndrome is when you get polio all over again, and now I am not only sleeping in an iron lung, I have to use portable oxygen to get through the day."
"My car went first. I had no strength to drive anymore. As my dreams died one by one, my depression worsened."
"How could God, whoever God was, do this? I had a chance, a real chance, to live life on my terms and now someone had pulled the window shades down and the only light I saw from that moment on was the one on my iron lung, the one I leave on all night so I can tell from the mirror who is coming in my room."
"We were the mirrors the doctors never wanted to see in the first place, and now they didn't see us. We were invisible."
"I know in my heart that many doctors feel great compassion for us. But there are some who treat us as though we are the untouchables."
"Joni, how did you go on, keeping your spirits up through a lifetime of suffering that few on this earth will ever ever know? How did you pull yourself out of your depression?"
"Jesus. Without my faith I would not be smiling and talking with you. Without knowing that I am here for something greater of which I may never see, I would have killed myself, but Jesus talks to me, you know? It's like I have a roommate and he never ever leaves me alone."
"Even now the corporations are threatening to let us die. Yup, they say they can't do the upkeep anymore on Iron Lungs. I never dreamed corporate greed would let us die. Well they might try, but Jesus is here and we won't leave until it's time."
"But I figure seeing all I have, and feeling all the the pain has given me something that just can't be broken or ever taken from me. When I ask my attendant to close me up in my iron lung at night, I look up at a prayer taped to the top of my lung."
Hold me Father close and warm
may no one do me any harm
I am a child of Thee
and You have protected me
thru every storm;
my heart is yours
and may Thy Will be Done
"I cry lots, I get angry, but I have close friends that help me through those nights with no end. I can call them anytime, but mostly I just call on God."
"When I am called home and they come to take this Iron Lung out of my apartment, I only hope I have made a few people smile, cry, and get angry ... you know: just feel life, really feel, 'cause in the end that's all I have to give."
When Joni and I first met, I had accepted a job to help her and moved into her apartment. Within three days she threw me out on the street! Joni was hurting badly and was so angry the pain was beyond human endurance, mine included! I didn't have a place to live.
And right before me Nancy, a friend with severe cerebral palsy who could barely talk and was confined to a wheelchair, had tried to live with Joni and was escorted, in her wheelchair, out the door by the police. Yup, Joni hurt and lashed out at everyone, especially those closest to her.
But I knew that the brief moments spent with Joni, well, they were about as close to God as I'll ever be on this earth. And Harold, I'll never forget Harold. He and I will meet one day where the color of our skin just doesn't matter. Oh yeah, I'm certain of that!
Originally published by TCRnews.com in a slightly different version.If you're interested in such things, you may be interested in these other Mysterious Ways pages: