It was a social gathering where the guests were people with disabilities and their care providers. In the center of the room was a huge table laden with food. There were ...
crackers and cheese
3 different types of squares
... Listen carefully, hush now, be quiet and listen carefully. Hear that sound in the distance? It's a nutritionist softly weeping.
At both ends of the table there were plates set up and there were a couple of plastic bags full of plastic cutlery. The room was full to overflowing. Conversation swirled around the room. Plates were picked up, filled, refilled, set down. Fruit was passed to the right. Cake to the left. Squares danced from one corner of the table to another.
People with disabilities.
Chatted with each other, met new people, renewed acquaintances. Just like what happens at parties. Just like any other social gathering. People left. People came. Chairs were taken, left, taken, left, as the flow in and out continued unabated. Speeches were made. Thank yous were given. Occasionally it seemed that the room, though full of hierarchies, approached the ideals of community - inclusion and welcome.
This is not the miracle.
Inclusion isn't a miracle - it's a right.
Welcome isn't a miracle - it's a reasonable expectation.
The miracle was that in a room full of rich food not one voice said, in the tone of a stern
The miracle was complete because in that room full of hierarchy not one voice said, in the tone of a stern
No one did that.
Not even once.
It's a miracle whenever those with power, upon entering a room, set it aside.
It's a miracle whenever those with power refuse to use it.
It's a miracle whenever those with power chose gentleness rather than domination.
Someone said to me, 'Are you alright?' They were worried because I had been sitting silently. I was, true, thinking of the reason behind the gathering, pondering what brought us all here to this room. But, more than that I was listening and noticing what I wasn't hearing, noticing what I wasn't seeing. I was being silently grateful to these young staff, chatting with each other and with those with disabilities in the room, simply being there to support - not scold - those who were in their care. I was grateful that those with disabilities were there relaxing, showing no fear in their fingers when they picked up a slice of cake, showing no fear in their eyes when they reached across the table for a brownie.
That means that they are growing used to the kind of everyday freedom that none of us understand we have. There are two freedoms. The 'freedom from ...' and 'freedom to ...' Everyone knows of course that you can't get to 'to' unless you've come from 'from'.
What a long journey that has been.
It was nice to be there at the finish line.