will never forget the handsome young man
years ago wearing a motorcycle jacket
in the Marlon Brando style of the time, staring down at
me from the high platform
of a Museum of Oddities located
in the basement of a building in Chicago, many decades
ago. He had, of course, never had the ability to ride
He was all, and
only, torso: legless,
and armless. Our eyes met in a moment
of appalling and unforgettable sadness
What was he thinking?
How could endure his helpless life, placed on a pedestal,
literally, to be viewed with disbelief, pity, and surely
I can never forget
his stare, and I have prayed for him in my heart over
It seems callous
and ruthless to thank God for my arms and legs, for my
and ten toes, in the light of my long acquaintance on
the carnival pedestal.
I pray, dear
Lord, for all those who face life without fingers or toes
Some people might
turn away in disgust
from an exhibit of human abnormalities,
seeing the human specimens as cruelly degraded and abused.
But this attitude might have something in common with
Victorian practice of hiding the malformed rich, who were
never to be seen in public.
I have seen the video
of a fast-moving magic act which employs several legless
“little people”, as they are euphemistically
called in today’s gentle lexicon. In the routine
they appear to be "sawed in half," their body
parts running around.
Are they being
abused in a heartless display? Or are they earning their
the adroit imagination of a kindly employer?
I would vote
for the second possibility.
Thank you, God,
for all you have bestowed
on me, and please accept my fervent prayer for all those
many, many people who are far less fortunate than I in
many ways, but who nevertheless manage, somehow, to make
their way successfully in the world.
All this I pray,
in grateful humility
and deep appreciation,
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