I had some time before my next appointment, so I decided to do some self-care by walking a labyrinth. The Westlake United Methodist Church was on my path to my next appointment, so I stopped there. It’s a labyrinth I’d walked several years previously, and I knew it was by the entrance and parking so I wouldn’t have to walk too far on a day when my pain levels were high (and rising due to stress).
When I got to the parking lot, I was greeted by a surprise that I didn’t remember being there the previous time I’d visited. In addition to the legally required disabled parking spots, there were also a large number of parking spots labeled “For The Less Mobile RESERVED.” I almost cried. While I have a disabled parking permit, there are often not enough disabled spots at large event venues. I’m guessing this church has an aging population that knows they need more disabled parking available. They also probably recognize that not everyone with limited mobility has a disabled parking permit. When I was eight months pregnant with twins, my mobility was very limited but I was not legally disabled at that point nor did I have a disabled parking permit. I definitely would have been grateful for a closer parking spot, though!
Since I was there on a weekday morning, the parking lot at Westlake UMC was almost completely empty, and I had my choice of parking spots. However, knowing that this church recognizes those with disabilities and physical limitations and not only accepts them but makes them feel welcome was incredibly powerful. I had just come from a medical office which shunned me for having the very medical condition they treat, yet this church welcomed me with open arms before I had even gone through the doors. The wording on the signs in their lot is compassionate and accepting to all those who might need a little extra assistance in the form of closer parking. If I were looking for a church, this is the type of thing that would let me know that my presence was very much wanted in their community.
©2017 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC