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.
Wentworth Miller says when you’re in survival mode, there isn’t space for “we” or “community.” It becomes all about “I” and “me.” He is not relating specifically to the challenges of disability, or faith communities fostering , but he shares valuable information about the challenges that may arise if you feel singular, different, and alone; if you have to spend the majority of your days in survival mode over the long term.
Then the pandemic hit and everything moved online. Our church hosted multiple online ways to connect: Zoom calls, online teaching, podcasts, Instagram and Facebook communities, virtual camp, book clubs, park meetups, subscription boxes and more. I could fully integrate into the life of our church community and it was wonderful.
This pandemic may soon be over, but for almost 20% of Canadians who experience some form of disability, the practice of self isolation and physical distancing will not necessarily end. As businesses, churches and community spaces begin to reopen, remember Isaiah 57:14 – 15.
My plea is that congregations will continue to have online worship services long after the pandemic is over.
It has been my responsibility and privilege to hold out hope with people who have struggled to hold it on their own. Offering light to one another must not overshadow the real pain that people experience, but small gestures and words of encouragement remind us that grief will not have the last word.
Including people with disabilities can be an opportunity for creative disruption in the church and other places in society.
Well I finally did it. After three years of using this thing, I capsized my wheelchair; with me in it.
"I was born with cerebral palsy which makes it challenging for me to speak or use my arms and legs. ... It is difficult for me to express my thoughts and ideas to people who do not know me very well because many do not understand the way I talk or type. This takes patience and practice."
In today’s world, people with disabilities are largely ‘othered’, and there’s movement of self-advocacy afoot among them. There’s no telling what can happen when people unite across differences.