Easter Monday this year is a travel day. It starts out with my annual 'chat' with students graduating from Humber College. They will be going off into the world to work with people with intellectual disabilities and I get to give them an hour's 'talking to'. I try to do a different talk each year, repeating only a couple of stories (the kind college kids love) and changing up the message. I do this because each year I go, I'm different than the year before.
Working with people requires growth and change. Being asked new and different questions every day about every aspect of what it is to be human requires ... thought, reflection, prayer. In listening to situations, in hearing the voices of those with disabilities, of the staff who work with them and the families that care about them, I find myself changed. It's like they come to me for solutions and in order to answer their questions, I have to ask myself to examine who I am and why I think what I think and what right I have to opinions in the lives of others. I have to identify boundaries. What is rightfully me and mine. What is rightfully them and theirs. It is so easy to mix these things up.
So when I sat down at the computer I decided to write what I wanted to say and then, and this is unusual for me, look at last years talk. These little events have their own file in my computer, usually I look at what I had to say the year before and then change it up. But this year, I ignored the 'Humber' folder in my computer and sat down and wrote what I wanted to say. I did as I always do ... I thought about what I would have needed to hear if I was that student in this year.
Once it was done I compared the two talks. Yep, there were the repeat stories but there were new ones too. Yep, there were repeat messages, but there were new ones too. This pleased me somehow. I'm always worried that I will, with age, lose the ability - no the willingness - to grow. But, there it was, evidence right in front of me that I'm about to plow into my 60th year on this earth and I'm still trying to get it right, still readjusting my patterns of thought and still making stupid mistakes.
But the talk is written and by the time many of you read this, it will be given and I will be in a car heading west. I hope that those kids, for me anyone under 30 is a kid, will find some meaning in what I have to say. I know that I will get, as I do every year, a feeling of deep gratitude that these kids have selected - out of a thousand different opportunities - the privilege to work providing service. I still remember some faces from last year. I still remember the enthusiasm and the idealism in their eyes. That's the fire I want to stoke. That's what I hope will happen.
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Many of you know that I am very, very, proud of neice Shannon's ability to write. Her most recent blog post oh hell no is a terrific read. More than that it is a challenge about responsibility and citizenship. Pop over if you have a chance.