🙁 Oh, unfortunately nobody has helped us to tell Anne Catherine’s story yet.
Could that be you?
In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote that explains some of what inspires the astonishing community, drawing as ever on great people already living the life we dream of.
Through the noise and the pain, hope…
Last year, this word from Jean Vanier dropped into my inbox and a number of ideas began to coalesce.
Living with men and women with intellectual disabilities has helped me to discover what it means to live in communion with someone. To be in communion means to be with someone and to discover that we actually belong together. Communion means accepting people just as they are, with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts and their beauty and their capacity to grow: to see the beauty inside of all the pain.
Jean Vanier, From Brokenness to Community, p.16
I had been reading a lot. Reading peoples hopes, fears and responses to the primates meeting of the Anglican Communion. Reading Neurotribes and learning more about the history of the neurodiverse community in which I live, horrified at the brutality with which so many autistes have been treated over time. I’ve been reading other people’s blogs about the life of the church in the holy land and this piece sent to me by a friend, knowing that I’m the mother of a non-verbal child: Why you should talk with non-verbal people.
This is the part which I want everyone to hear:
You do it for them–to show them they’re worth talking to.
Think about it. What do you communicate to someone by talking to them, or by refusing to talk to them? Imagine *that* boss everyone’s had who thinks talking to lowly little you is a waste of time.
But what if it wasn’t just your boss who wouldn’t look at you and talk to you because you’re not worth it? What if it was…(oh my gosh) everyone?…
And that’s the moment that I realized how much of the conversation I conduct is selfish, selfish, selfish.
Not that we shouldn’t enjoy those friends whose conversation is balm to the soul. Let’s be thankful for those people. But when I decide who I sit next to, when I let a conversation fall off so I can excuse myself and chat with someone else, those decisions are driven by what I can get out of it.
When I look at it closely, I realize the horrifying truth.
I seek to be encouraged, entertained, provoked, challenged, and flattered. And it’s not that I wouldn’t do that for someone else, but perhaps it’s at least slightly conditional upon whether or not they can repay the favor.
By making a simple, though complicated shift in my goals, it changes everything…
If my goal is to communicate to him that I love him, what I’m willing to do changes completely.
To communicate love, sure, I’ll work for it. I expect to. Anyone would.
I’ll take an hour and a half instead of an hour to make dinner, and expect a much bigger mess. It’s cool, because I’ve shown him I like him to be a part of what I’m doing.
Posted by MAURAOPRISKO on JANUARY 18, 2016
So much of what I had been reading, especially of the conversations taking place within the churches speak out of the pain that they are experiencing and out of a longing to be loved and accepted. People writing and speaking are so aware of the pain they are experiencing that they listen selfishly and respond to point out the plank in the other person’s eye.
I hear conversations where the meaning is lost as the rallying cries of differing tribes are raised and objected to: sexism; heteronormative; surely poverty is more important; traditional values; climate change; ageing spirituality; hearing friendly churches, accessible churches, Generation Y, and I find it hard not to join in, shouting for the inclusion of Autistes and their recognition as human beings, worthy of love and acceptance regardless of gender, sexual orientation, intellectual ability, theology, politics…
I’m trying not to do that. I’m trying to step back, to see the bigger picture. Each of these causes is worthy, has its place. Each person’s pain is real. Each person is loved and created by God. Each voice is telling us something about the bigger humanity God created.
I always come back to the passage that presiding bishop Michael Curry quoted following the primates meeting that sanctioned The Episcopal Church:
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3.26–29
If this is a vision of life in the kingdom of God, then the ever increasing complexity of non-binary genders, multiple neurological constructions, a spectrum of sexualities, differently abled individuals… leads me to believe that we are drawing closer to the inauguration of the kingdom of God.
It feels chaotic, its bound to really. Complexity theory tells us that new life springs into being on the margins of an organism. So perhaps the church really is beginning to live where it should live again, on the margins.
It is in these chaotic margins that The Astonishing Community seeks to stand.
On this day, lift before God:
- those who do not feel valued by our society.
- all who casually exclude others by failing to spend to time with them.
- all who are desperate for their voices to be heard.
- all whose lives are dedicated to listening (with ears or in other ways).