I’ve started doing some hospital visiting this year. And, although I’m still feeling my way in terms of meaningful conversation, I’m hoping that the irrepressible Stanley Hauerwas is on the money:
That the deaf, the mute, the blind, the poor, those rendered helpless in the face of suffering, recognize Jesus is not accidental. To be disabled does not make one a faithful follower of Christ, but it puts you in the vicinity of the kingdom. To be disabled is to be forced to have the time to recognize that Jesus is the inauguration of a new time constituted by prayer. To be disabled is to begin to understand what it means to be an infant vis-a-vis the kingdom brought in by Jesus (Matthew, p 116).
(I reckon Hauerwas is what Harold Bloom would call an ‘independently interesting’ author — someone who’s worth reading on whatever topic, even though he’s not always going to be a reliable guide to that topic!)