Author’s note: This post was drafted during 2020 when the world was closed and we all had to get very creative.  As many things did during that time, this piece of writing got lost.  However I don’t want this lesson, like many learned during those dark days of the early pandemic, to be lost as well.  I share this memory with you now and invite you to reminisce on the past few years. Hopefully you can call to mind  moments of beautiful community that emerged even as we were physically isolated from one another.

This is part of a series on Christian Horizons Core Values: Valuing People, Fostering Belonging, Serving Others, and Respecting Gifts.

A screenshot of multiple people on a Zoom call.  There are 10 participating screens.
A blurry screenshot cannot capture the joy contained in these video calls.

Rewind to summer 2020

We have a weekly video chat, at Christian Horizons, where we play bingo, share show-and-tell, exercise together, or engage in some other fun activity.  Each week at the end of the call David asks to sing a song for us all.

It’s almost always the same song (The Rose by Bette Midler) and as David sings he mimics the accompanying piano notes along with the lyrics.  People always applaud and when the routine has been completed, the call is done.

This week was no different, except that we had a smaller group than usual.  We finished our game of bingo and it came time for the song.  Because it was a smaller group we could all leave our microphones on, and we could all see each others’ faces a little larger and clearer.  As David prepared to sing, his friends on the call enthusiastically encouraged him.  Once he started singing, big smiles broke out across their faces.  One woman rocked in time to the music.  Another sang along very quietly, appreciative but not disruptive. 

When the song ended there was applause and several calls of “thank you! Thank you for the song!”

David’s gift of music is highly valued and respected in our little virtual community.

And it’s not just him.  One week there was a talent show where everyone was invited to share their gifts.  People sang, showed their artwork, played instruments, hula-hooped, and demonstrated their ability to solve math problems. Each gift was valued and respected. 

People who experience disabilities belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected. 

This is our vision statement at Christian Horizons and everything we do hinges on this.  We aim to nurture communities of belonging. 

We often think of this vision meaning that the people who use Christian Horizons services will be appreciated by others; that their gifts will be valued and respected. And this is definitely part of it.  But I’m realizing that valuing others’ gifts is a powerful gift in itself. 

I want everyone to have the experience that I had that day – to be in a space where there is true love and acceptance for each member.  Where people show up with their whole, unedited selves and are embraced. 

The Christian Horizons vision statement is not something that the agency can achieve.  It is something that together we, as community members, as friends, as the family of God, will all bring into being.

David submitted this video for a virtual talent show to celebrate the International Day of Persons With Disabilities on December 3 2020.

He gives me permission to share this story and video with you now.