I sat quietly for about five minutes.
Soaking in the atmosphere.
Feeling where I was.
I arrived just as the chapel sevice was ending. In the hallway, outside the sanctuary, I met two young people with intellectual disabilities. The young woman recognized me from having met a few years ago and we chatted. She introduced me to a shy young man who told me his name in a voice stitched with velvet. We talked briefly. They looked very much at peace, very much like they had just left worship. I said my farewells and entered in to where I would be presenting for the day.
I've presented in this room many times over the years and it's one of my favourite places to be. It's a beautiful room, it has a lovely mural on the back wall and a huge window overlooking a frozen pond. After being greeted and given what I needed to set up, I was left alone for a few minutes to gather my thoughts. Sitting in a room still filled with the spirit of worship, still scented with prayers that lingered, I felt a kind of wonder. Being here many times before and worshiping with people with intellectual disabilities, has left an indelible mark on me. Each time I enter I know I will leave with new memories and the room will mean something more, yet something different the next time I come in.
But this is the first time I was to teach immediately following a service of worship. This is the first time I was to teach just after having greeted people with disabilities whose prayers had been prayed in that space. I wondered what they prayed for. I wondered what they had said, with bowed heads, to their God. I wondered if their prayers, which are echos of the hopes of hearts, placed responsibilities on my shoulders. I was there to train those who provided care. I was there to challenge and change, to inform and inspire, to teach and be taught.
I was alone.
Yet I felt surrounded by the quiet voices of prayer.
Never has a room better prepared me for what was to happen next.
Feels like you could have done "a deep comfortable but still responsible sigh"...
I think what you have written is a great reminder of the journey we should be taking.....to meet all needs. I sometimes get bogged down in making sure meds get checked, skin gets checked, but I have not often checked on the hearts and souls that I am given to support.
I need to find a better way.
Deeply beautiful yet peaceful post. Thanks for sharing Dave.
You have a way with words! Keep giving them to us - we need them to help us in our work.
Anonymous #2: One of the women that I used to support was always very anxious and found it hard to engage with the world. But when we went into churches, she was like a changed person. It was absolutely extraordinary. She had no church-going background. I make no claims about what was happening, but it seemed to me that she knew how to meet her own spiritual needs, she just needed a bit of facilitation to allow that to happen.
From Anonymous #2--
Thanks defying gravity. I know what attending church does for me. I typically go every Sunday morning and then the rest of my day has a shine to it that a Monday or Thursday never seems to have. I haven't helped facilitate any of those days, but my wheels are turning.
Did you ever give a presenation in another Chapel? It sounds like a nice place to be. The 2 people you met, do you keep in touch with them? How are they doing today?
Janielle, this just happend a couple days ago. I will be giving a presentation in a church hall in a few days.
I love that you gave prayer a scent. I love it!
Hi Dave, just got to your post today, you are an articulate writer, and an inspiring presenter. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, it encourages many, including me, to speak up!
Warren, I never know, when I write pieces like 'the scent of prayer' if I should mention where it is that I am in the story. Usually I don't know what I'm going to write until I write it. And then, it's usually to late to ask for permission. You and I have to have a discussion about this one day so I can find out your thoughts about that issue. Naming a place gives a greater sense of reality to a piece but at the same time I'm very concerned about the privacy that comes with my work. I never want to violate the trust of an individual or of an agency that supports them.
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