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Thursday, 23 March 2017

It's Been A While......

I Took A Hiatus....

It's fitting that after taking some time away from the blog and the writing, my first foray back into the public realm would be a TV interview. Yesterday I was part of a panel discussing how to be more inclusive to the disabled. 

It's been a year since I wrote here and posted things and had reverberations to share.

A year of introspection, of change, of depth, of learning,....a year of many things. A year away from sharing in the social world is a lifetime in Twitter years, and it feels a bit like a lifetime has passed.

What has transpired was necessary for me to gain some depth and perspective, which we all need from time to time.

Anyone who has read this blog previously knows that this is a place for me to share the things that are becoming clearer, and moving deeper into my heart. To write the words that won't stay inside.

One of the resounding themes of the silences of the last year surrounds my involvement on various levels with people who have varying degrees of disability.

Last August, for example, I spent four days in Toronto, soaking up all the genius and vision of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, at the ISAAC Conference. This is a conference for those who use devices to speak, like Stephen Hawking. It focused on new research for ways to make communication easier for those who are non-verbal.  

Shortly after that, I found myself spending all of my days at the hospital bedside of a dear, dying, disabled, non-verbal friend. Two months, every day, I had a glimpse into the mind of a world traveler, prolific speaker, spiritual giant and biggest goofball I've ever had the pleasure to encounter. Advocating for him each day, in some of the most horrific moments of his life, was both a blessing and an honour, and I am still trying to find words to capture what the experience meant to me. Paul Marshall was a life-changing connection this year and I am forever grateful for him.  

Since January, I've also been trying on a brand new hat,...that of 'webmaster', for a site devoted to the Blissymbolics language, for those who are non-verbal. Blissymbolics is a picture language that is used by those who are non-verbal. Most of the users have Cerebral Palsy, and the website is a way for many of them to get their message out.  

During these different events and encounters and episodes, I've felt like I wanted or needed to put pen to paper and see what came out. Nothing seemed to want to surface, however. It almost felt like all the emotions and thoughtfulness each connection produced needed to settle inside for a while. 

To percolate.

Percolating, for now, is complete.

Lately, I have felt the distinct privilege to have made, and continue to make solid connections with so many people, from so many walks of life, from vastly different economic and social stations and structures. People have become much more important to me over these last months.  Engagement and community, pain and happiness, ...these all cross so many boundaries and borders, and I have found that pain and grief is no respecter of persons, no matter age, race, social standing or depth of character. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of pain some people carry and yet still march on, with grace and dignity.

I have also witnessed a monumental amount of people all around me who seemingly have no voice. There have been those who physically cannot speak who have surrounded me with their wisdom and humour and grace until I'm left speechless myself. Then there have been those who carry so much pain and heartache inside, but their social standing does not allow their voice to be heard, so they continue to carry their ache in silence.

I have been profoundly moved. Over and over and over again. In the midst of every day. In the shadows of the regular world passing by, I have been deeply moved.

I am sure it will all pour out on these pages in the days and months ahead. Somehow the message of community and togetherness and each of us finding our voices, it needs to be heard.

One thing seems abundantly clear to me. My personal challenge has been whittled down, taken from the broadness of my rhetoric, and laser-defined into ten simple words.

They will know I am a Christian by my love.

My question these days can I love you best? How can I love you best, if you have no voice? How can I love you best, if you have just lost your son? How can I love you best, if you have no place to call home? How can I love you best, if you have all the money in the world, but you cannot find your soul? How can I love you best, if you will never step foot into a church? 

How can I love you best?

Clearly, the percolating is perhaps not over yet....




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