This week, I was in Niagara-on-the-Lake (“NOTL”) for some meetings. Everyone who heard I was going there said something like, "Oh, that's nice!" Why? Because if you've ever been, you know it's beautiful and charming. My response was something like, "Theoretically, yes, but it is February after all."
It was an accessible restaurant for a couple of years. Dion and I would occasionally go, entering through a door that was both wide and street-level. One day we arrived to notice that the door was locked. I went around to the other side of building to discover that they had reconfigured the space.
One day in November, I experienced Chris’ anticipation in full. We had arrived at a local mall. Walking in the door, at the end of a very long hallway we could see Santa’s giant decorative red chair set up in the centre of the atrium. Chris exclaimed “ho-ho!” and took off running toward Santa’s throne.
To better understand what joy means, we met with Steven in Ottawa. Steven radiates joy. Steven loves Christmas. He is a part of Parkway Church South of Ottawa, where he is looking forward to singing Christmas carols and hearing about Jesus’ birth “He was born in the manger,” Steven says. When we asked what Steven likes about the holiday, we found out that he is excited about the gifts. “I like presents,” he says, laughing.
Despite all this, I am joyful. I’m going into the Christmas season knowing I may not have the energy to go sledding or light touring with my nephews; I may have to limit my rounds to people I care about. Yet, I know God is here with me. Christmas is about God incarnate, so despite what I may or may not get to do this year, I marvel that HE came for me.
It might sound cliché, but I was hired to help others and they helped me just as much, perhaps even more. I learned about acceptance, trust, diversity, and what it meant to have a place to belong. Looking back, I realize God was beginning to teach me about 1 Corinthians 12 and what it means to be whole.
I am having a bad day at the group home, the sort of day where I find myself drafting resignation letters in my head. There is too much to do, and not enough time. There is too much paperwork, and not enough relationship with the people the paperwork is meant to serve. There are too [...]
People with developmental disabilities, people like Sam, have taught me that each person matters. These days, we often forget about the one, about individual people – we are so distracted by all the things and the many people which call for our attention.
This is not the love of romance stories or Hollywood endings. This is the kind of love that brings you to the end of yourself and then beyond. The kind of love that takes all you’ve got during the day and keeps you up at night. Real. Costly. Love.
It is a long and slow process for me, a well-educated and nondisabled white male, to appreciate and to pay attention to the ways that God is working on the margins. But whether it is in pausing my frantic productivity to gaze for a moment at crisp pin-points of light in the night sky or in turning my attention to a neighbour who does not use words to communicate, I am “Learning how to say ‘Hallelujah’ from the ones who say it right.”