Last week I was lucky enough to travel to Alberta for no other reason than to have some time for myself. I spent a few rowdy days in the big city with friends and family, and then a few days of extreme quiet with myself and God and a long-time mentor.
People in my circle here in Cape Breton are probably tired of hearing me talk about what a fabulous trip I had! My week had just the right amount of everything - food and drink, sleep and exercise, fun and contemplation, you name it. But I think what really made the time so rich was that just about everyone I saw was someone who has known me for a long time, and who knows my story in a very personal way. Even if some of those people I had not seen for 2 or 3 (or 10!)years, there was still a deep sense of comfort and safety in their company. For that I am grateful.
And, as always, it made me think. In particular it made me think about the importance of being known, of being surrounded by people who know my story and who can listen to me and understand me without needing an explanation. They may not know the recent details of my life, but that, somehow doesn't seem to matter. It made me reflect, too, on the importance of knowing my own story, of being proud of it, of dwelling in it and allowing it to enrich my life and the lives of those who are important to me.
And so what of the people in my life who, due to their disability, cannot articulate their own story? How do they take this ownership of who they are and where they have come from? How do they, when the people around them change so often, have this feeling of being known in a deep and intimate way, of being understood without needing to explain?
I am so aware of the privilege - and the responsibility - that I carry in my long term commitment to the people of disability in my life. I am more and more conscious of how those of us who support people need to learn how to help them tell and celebrate their stories. We need to recognize our role in revealing the "unrepeatable grace" in the life of each person.