A long time ago, there was a young woman, who woke up to find that she could not “wake up”! She slept and slept, for months, for years, shrouded in a cocoon of fevered dreams. Her hair fell out, her fingerprints dissolved; muscles, memory and life-savings shriveled.
When she finally awoke, it was as a “new creature”, unrecognizable even to herself: needing to relearn the skills of reading and writing, of remembering and imagining; needing to learn entirely new ways of moving through the world.
And that’s exactly what I did: with the help of those who, every step of the way, insisted that my physical form and abilities (or lack thereof) do not define me! That I have worth and dignity, a right to freedom and respect, even when I don’t have the strength to believe or to articulate or to fight for those things myself! This is my story, the details of which I’m more than willing to share with you one on one.
My point? My point is that I could not have become who I am today without that kind of support – without people willing to stand by me as my story evolved, especially when it was a really depressing story and the ending seemed hopeless to me!
I could not have made it without people willing to lift up a vision of who I am “beyond” that experience of incapacitation; beyond those spirals of fear and hopelessness; people who lifted up a vision of “wholeness” that could root itself in MY imagination and clear a path to meaning and purpose!
Ultimately, their imagination in those critical years gave rise to the kinds of “creative ideas” I needed in order to adapt every day to my reality (whatever the “new normal” was going to be that day). For example, ideas not only about medical procedures and treatments, but also about spiritual and financial resources that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise, but ended up making all the difference!
More so, it was their imagination that fueled my own as I slowly regained my strength and faced the future – hearing more persistently than ever the call to ministry I’d been ignoring for years!
The transformation to who I am today: a continually evolving, fallible being, committed to liberal religious values, to service and celebration, was (drumroll please…) a communal effort! And that story is precisely what makes me get up every morning in awe and gratitude for life, for second chances, and the intricate web of supportive relationships that make all of that possible!
Not just possible, but worthwhile: faithful, hopeful and loving!
Holy and beautiful is the custom that brings us together!