Editor’s note: As we welcome the new year, we are pleased to share this poem by Mike Bonikowsky.
Mike is often asked to speak on behalf of the disability community; a community he spends much time with, but does not belong to as an able-bodied person. He recognizes the tension in this and seeks input and guidance from people with lived experience. This poem, for example, went through multiple iterations based on feedback he solicited from friends and colleagues before arriving at the version you’ll find below.
Working with Mike is a beautiful example of advocates and allies coming together to dismantle ableism and nurture communities where everybody belongs.
This poem captures the belief that we are all stronger together.
Whoever has ears, let them hear Whoever has eyes, let them read The signs the Lord has written out All over his creation. This is his word inscribed for us In all the shapes that bodies make Spoken in a thousand tongues That only love can translate. This is the sign of contradiction. Hung like Christ, like constellations That spell the secret heart of God In the only alphabet that can. Look, you eyes, that you may see Listen, ears, that you may hear. Open your hearts, minds, arms, and gates For this is the Kingdom you prayed would come.
The poem Mike wrote was beautiful and touched my heart. I would be honored if he would allow me to use his poem, giving him full credit of course. I am a minister and always looking for beautiful and positive things that come ffrom the disabled community. I have also been a Direct Support Professional, because the need is great, howeverI know I cannot do it forever. My calling is taking me elsewhere.
Hi Melissa, Mike here! Please feel free to use this poem wherever it can be used, and thank you for the kind words.
Hi Mike, Thank you so very much! I will then be using it in my Master’s Thesis on Disability Theology. I look forward to having a conversation with you soon. my email is