Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Door

I thought about the door all day yesterday. A couple weekends ago we went to Colchester Castle museum to see an exhibit called 'Beyond the Lable' an exhibit on disability. The exhibit was largely disappointing and in some respects startlingly wrongheaded but there was a small part of it that really caught me. They had installed a huge, huge door from one of the institutions. Beside the door was the enormous ring of keys that would have been carried by staff as they walked the halls and locked in life behind them.

It was a sturdy door. A door made to withstand attack. No flimsy garden gate this barrier. This was a door with intent, with an incredible sense of purpose. I touched it and it felt like what it was 'captivity'. The 'doorness' was enhanced by the hole for the key, it took the barest amount of imagination to hear the sound of the tumblers falling and the door being firmly and resolutely locked.

What were they afraid of ... the one's who commissioned this doors birth? Surely they feared no one breaking in ... they must have feared that the life behind the walls would one day want to be free, would one day stampede for the exit, would one day use their will for freedom as a battering ram. This was the door that was meant to hold back what might burst forth. This was a door built, not for now, but for then - that future when the locked away would want to be the let free.

I thought of that door all day yesterday. The Paradigm conference manages to pull of a miracle of inclusion and celebration and education every year. Yesterday the day began with ... drum roll ... the world's first inclusive pop band put together by 'The Movable Feast'. The stage was taken by several dancer - singers, at least five of which had Down Syndrome. Then the music started, the party happened. Those with and without disabilities performed, dancing a choreographed step, singing a song written specifically for the group. It was impossible not to get chills, not to have tears well in the eyes.

It was in that moment, I thought of that door hanging, silently on display, disused and unnecessary, an ignoble death. This is what that door feared. That life would catch in these hearts and there would be a passion to live. There would be a need to express joy. That these kids with Down Syndrome on the stage, these people with disabilities in the audience, these carers watching, all of us in the room, would need community like faith needs God.

I wonder if that door could speak, if it would have the courage to say, 'Sorry.'

9 comments:

Lola said...

Sadly I couldn't make it to the conference to join in the celebration of the redundant door. I am there in spirt and am certainly celebrating with you all.

I am also praying and working hard to make sure that any remaining doors get unlocked and strung up for good! And that everything that has been achieved by people with disabilities,their carers and the communinty go some way to breaking down the fear captured within those doors.

lina said...

To the removal of every door, every where - to life for all in every community - to never forgetting that door!(my toast to 2008)

anne said...

Thanks for doing all you do to help us break down the barriers!

Anne @ Archie's Room

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the wonderful insights. I love reading your posts. My day is not complete without them.

To the breaking of barriers!! Hey! Hey!!

Cheche

Anonymous said...

I have a door in my memory--from a developmental center (state hospital). We took someone for a custom wheelchair there and the wheelchair builders were in an old unused residential section. The guys showed us around. Wheelchair parts were stored in the old cells (yes, cells). The doors were very thick as you described with tiny barred windows--and SCRATCHED and GOUGED on the inside with marks that had to be made by fingernails. I'll never forget.

Chris said...

There is at least one other pop band filled with people with disabilities. www.flametheband.com They are truly fantastic. We had them at our last Buddy Walk and we'll have them again.

Lianna said...

"I have a door in my memory--from a developmental center (state hospital). We took someone for a custom wheelchair there and the wheelchair builders were in an old unused residential section. The guys showed us around. Wheelchair parts were stored in the old cells (yes, cells). The doors were very thick as you described with tiny barred windows--and SCRATCHED and GOUGED on the inside with marks that had to be made by fingernails. I'll never forget."

This gave me chills...and heartache. I, too, hope that any and all remaining doors are unlocked and strung up for good. Funnily enough, my son has a thing for closing doors. After reading this post, I pray that they're doors *behind* him, always.

Kimberley said...

I am thankful everyday for my field placement at HRC in Orillia.

Thankful for the staff who sent me underground, to walk through the tramways to get to another part of the building.

I only did that walk once! To see the rows and rows of doors, big and imposing. Such a sadness about them. I too touched each and everyone of them that day. All I could feel was the captivity, loss of freedom, spirit, hope. I cried that day and knew I was on the right life path!!

Those doors have been with me everyday of my career, to remind me of where people came from and to celebrate with them how far they have come!!!

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