January 16, 2020
This is a book I would recommend to every teenager and adult that I know. Christina is a wheelchair-bound woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She has lived three times longer than the doctors thought she would, and she LIVES with a passion and a zeal which can perhaps come only from one with severe physical limitations. Like Stephen Hawking, her body may be crippled but her mind most definitely soars. And unlike Hawking, Christina has a deep reverence and affection for the ineffable God of the Universe.
It is profoundly moving to come face to face with disability and the possibility of death with Christina. She does not hide from the pain that she lives with, most especially the emotional pain of knowing that she will never be able to bear her own children. Hers is an eloquent reminder that all babies are precious, and the Culture of Death must contend with Christina’s powerful voice for the voiceless. Her life is so fragile, and as she puts it, so “small” but she appreciates totally the gift of being alive. How many of us can say that? How many of us even allow ourselves the rare, quiet moment of knowing that our every breath comes from God?
In the past year, I lost a good friend to cancer. She was a mother of seven, and a beautiful, vivacious person who always had a smile on her face even when she was exhausted. I shed many tears over the fact that she had to leave her two-year-old daughter behind. We have a two-year-old son, and the thought of leaving him is beyond comprehension. But Christina is helping me to cope with the loss of my fellow homeschooling mom. We all need a deep realization of our “smallness,” but also of the tremendous LOVE that God has for each person. When we come to grips with the idea of Heaven, and know that it is a real place, then the separation of death becomes temporary, not permanent. This is the hope that burns brightly in our souls, and hope is one of Christina’s charisms and a great gift to the world.
And Love is the main theme of this book. God loves each of us so much that He suffered and died for us, as one of us. He is there, holding our hand through every challenge. Christina understands and is able to communicate the beautiful life of Jesus in a way that is always mindful of His sacrifice on the Cross. She describes her own sacrifices, and those of her parents and family as seen through the eyes of love. Her love for Jesus is so moving and vibrant that I spent the entire book rooting for her to get up out of that wheelchair and walk on water with Him. All of us should have her faith. We all must gain her courage, for to hope of Heaven in the midst of suffering requires great courage. In Christina’s words:
“I don’t believe that the hope of Heaven should cause us to think of Earth as solely a valley of tears, a land of exile that we want to flee for the sunnier shores of paradise. Rather, it is good and right to desire living now and to live our humanity here, because God wants us to embrace the earthly lives that He has given to us in the wondrous gift of His Creation. God desires us to live fully, body and soul, as the persons that He created us to be, knowing, loving, and serving all that is good, true, and beautiful as best as we can — mysteriously participating in the divine life now so that we can live its fulfillment forever.”