This interested me because my last job was as a notetaker for disabled students at university and I have worked in a similar group setting for young adults with profound disabilities ranging from severe epilepsy, autism, Deaf people, visually impaired people and deaf-blind people. We worked very hard, but sometimes it all seemed worth it, such as seeing a young man who could hardly walk unaided, with severe learning disabilities and sensory impairments, sit upright on an ex-race horse and look like the complete natural he was. How did he learn this skill? He had been to riding for the disabled as a child, but this was a genuine gift - one that I don't have, so admired all the more! I don't have a natural affinity with horses at all. I was in a paddock we'd been told not to go in when I was 6 or so, and was bitten by one. I was not pleased to be on duty the day they went riding, but it made my heart glad to see this lad using his talent like this as I saw him in a completely different light.
That's what I'd like to say to the neighbours of this property under discussion. Try to put aside your fears and give them a chance. Your life will, I'm quite sure, be enriched as a result. I truly believe that everyone born on earth has God-given potential and unique gifts and abilities. This includes all of the children and young people on Oakdale. They are worth investing in. During the meeting, one Councillor said that he wanted the Committee to "show [the developers] what the Forest was made of". Jesters could say that it's made of trees. But why not use trees as an analogy? In fact, why not oaks, seeing as this is Oakdale. Here's what the Bible says:
"To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair,
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory."
I lost the seventh of my unborn children last week. I know some would say that at 9 weeks, there is nothing but a collection of cells, but when I know that there will be a heart beat starting inside me as well as my own shortly, and that I could see a scan in a month or so more, I do what I've done every time (and maybe shouldn't) - I give them a name. I always see them as a potential person, child, sibling etc though. This is my weakness. I am glad of it as I can believe that I will meet them in Heaven one day.
This one was Tabitha - named for a lady who achieved fame forever more in the Bible, not because she did great things to change the world, but because she sewed clothes for neighbours who had none. We've just been staying at the house of a friend who knits jumpers for premature babies in Africa, and who 'knitted us better' with homemade gifts of love when my live-born baby was in a special care baby unit. She already had the patterns!
She is a hospital consultant with more than one job and many calls on her time, but she took the time to do this for us because it simply says each time we wear or use something that she makes, "I love you." I walk into her house and there are pictures of my son on her dresser, fridge magnets carefully chosen and wrapped up by me on the fridge door and a wall hanging that I thought of as a gift for her one birthday as soon as I saw it. It just says,
"We cannot all do great things for the world, but we can do small things with great love."
So go on. Love your neighbour. Especially if they have a disability, are new in town and have left family and friends behind, don't see their dad that much, or have lost someone dear to them. We can all do it. It's just a matter of perspective and a willingness to see things with the clarity that God will give us if we ask him to. See their potential and their ability to grow into Forest Oaks one day.