A few days ago one of the gentlemen from another one of the group homes under the organization I work for passed away. One thing you must understand is that each group home is different, each one has a different group dynamic, each one looks different and each one has a different name. In many of the group homes the clients have lived together for many years of their lives and so in one sense they are each other’s family. They laugh together, they fight with one another, they learn to know each other’s moods and voices.
The group home that this gentleman lived in is a house full of older men. They are a sweet bunch of fellows and if you’d see them in their sweater vests and trousers you’d probably think they looked like your grandpas. They are all developmentally disabled and most of them all have physical disabilities as well. These men have lived together for most of their lives.
Today was the memorial service for the one that went to be with Jesus. It was my first memorial service as a support worker and we took several ladies from our home. The service was a lovely one; a great tribute to the memory of this individual. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting to be gripped really at all. I didn’t know this individual very well; I’ve seen him on several occasions and stopped to chat only a few times. I know a few of the other men in his home a bit better and I shouldn’t have favourites but in this house I do. There is one of the men who I stop to talk with frequently. He is small and his body is very crippled and you’d have to listen very carefully to make out his speech but he is spirited and very smart. He has the best laugh and to my dismay he loves the Toronto Maple Leafs. He drives his automatic wheelchair up and down the road and on the sunny days the staff always put his umbrella up so he doesn’t get a sun burn. Hands down, he is without a doubt my favourite. This morning, I watched the men from the group home from my seat at the back of the chapel. Several of the staff were crying but I was taken back when about midway through the service my favourite grandma from the house started weeping. The sounds of his sobs filled the room as the lady sitting beside him helped to wipe his tears. My eyes welled with tears as I listened to this sweet man grieve, knowing all too well what it feels like to lose a brother.
As I am still reflecting on the service my thoughts come back to the type of community I witnessed today. I am reminded that you don’t have to share the same blood to be family. I think about this in the home that I work in as well. Last week one of the ladies wasn’t feeling the greatest and wanted to stay in bed for most of the day. I propped her up in her bed and sat and fed her some lunch as I chatted with her, even though she wasn’t in a very chatty mood. On the other side of the house one of the other ladies was agitated and screaming quite loudly and as I sat with the woman she chuckled and said “too loud” so I asked her who it was and she told me right away. I am reminded over and over again about how well these ladies know one another. I am fascinated by the way they interact, good and bad. I would argue with anyone in the world who says that people who have severe developmental and physical disabilities cannot experience community because if you would have been at that memorial service today and heard the sound of those tears you would have no doubt that what you just witnessed was a direct result of community. Hellen Keller once wrote this: “When indeed shall we learn that we are all related to one another, that we are all members of one body?” This truth rang true once again today.
If you remember to, say a prayer for these men as there is an empty room in their house now and as we are certain in this case that it’s a lot harder for the ones left behind than it is for the one who is free now.
~The Kindred Spirit
I am one of those people who gets the somewhat unfortunate job of working every weekend. I say unfortunate not because of the nature of the work but because of the fact that most of the people I get together with have the weekends off, which means that we typically have opposite schedules. I’ve been working every weekend for almost a year now and it’s beginning to take it’s toll. I don’t mind working Saturdays but working Sundays is the kicker for me. I’m a pastors kid and throughout my life Sundays have been made up of church, lunches out with the youth, movies, afternoon sleeps, hockey games, and take out night with the fam among other wonderful things. I think there’s a chance that I took having Sundays off for granted. Last Sunday was our church’s annual Barn Party at Balls Falls. One of my co-workers took pity on me and said she would work my Sunday if I worked her Monday shift….BLESS THIS WOMAN! So last Sunday I had the entire day off! I went to church and I wasn’t distracted by thoughts of having to head to work right after lunch. I went out for lunch with a bunch of friends and then we headed to the Barn Party. The day was wonderful and such a blessing for me, it was a Sabbath in every way. Balls Falls is also a beautiful location for picture taking, which of course I (and a few of my camera jealous friends) indulged in…
These are the types of days that remind me of all that’s good in the world.
The Kindred Spirit
I’m on a major exercise kick right now. This morning I got up early to go for a walk/run, it was a beautiful morning and I really enjoyed listening to my music while I motored it down the street. Seriously when a rocking beat comes on my ipod I just naturally seem to sway my hips a bit wider! Anyways when I got back into the house I sat down to catch my breath and have some breakfast.
Sidenote: I am a huge lover of lemonade….in particular raspberry lemonade. The raspberry stuff is harder to get your hands on though so usually I just drink the regular stuff. There is this one brand of lemonade called “simply lemonade” and I don’t know how they do it but they make the best lemonade ever. It’s a bit more expensive so when my lovely mother buys it….it is such a yummy treat!
So as I was getting the milk out of the fridge for my cereal I noticed this pink stuff at the back of the fridge….I looked closer and realized it was “Simply Lemonade”….RASPBERRY flavour!!!!
This seriously made my whole morning.
Here’s to finding the “sweetness” in this day! (See blog below if you don’t get it)
I started reading a new book. It’s called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. I love this book already. I am somehow finding myself connecting with it on so many levels. The book is about the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.
I think these may be words I need to hear. A truth that my heart needs to learn.
Lately I have been finding myself living under the cloud of “the bitter state”. My life is in what I would call a waiting stage right now. If you would rate life in the categories of lived it, living it, or waiting for it, most of the things I desire for my life would come under the waiting for it stage. If I’m being totally honest, which I will be, the waiting stage or the land in between (not where you were but not there yet either) can be a difficult one. It becomes easy to question God’s faithfulness and His plan while I feel like I’m wandering around aimlessly and waiting for something I’m not sure is going to happen. I think I’m learning that the land in between can feel like the loneliest place in the world because it feels like everyone has arrived or isn’t in the same place as you.
So my new question that I’m asking myself is how do I find the something beautiful in the something broken? How do I find the sweet amongst the bitter?
I don’t have this answer yet.
Shauna says that “bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. It’s courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.”
It doesn’t really feel like my circumstances are very beautiful right now. The phrase above says bittersweet is the PRACTICE of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet. Perhaps this is key….I need to practice believing this until I do?
I’m going to Practice! 🙂
~The Kindred Spirit
Well I don’t know about you but I’m starting to feel ready for fall. The summer has been fantastic but I’m ready for programs to start, leaves to change colours, jean wearing weather and some new music. YES….this fall is going to bring the release of some new albums from some of my favourite artists. So in case you’re a little out of the loop or you’re looking for some new music this fall, here is my list of my most anticipated albums coming this fall….
#1 ~ Flags by Brooke Fraser (Oct. 12)……Brooke is a New Zealand native and definitely one of my favourite artists. Chances are you may have heard her singing on one of the Hillsong United albums. Brooke will also be coming to Toronto in November so if you’re in the area this will be a show you won’t want to miss.
#2 ~ Light Up The Sky by The Afters (Sept. 14)….The Afters have already released their first single on this album and I’ve had it on repeat in my car…..it’s one you want to turn up and shout out. I loved The Afters last album “Never Going Back To Ok” and I’m expecting even better things from this album….hopefully I won’t be disappointed!
#3 ~ Speak Now by Taylor Swift (Oct. 25)…..Whether you’re a county music fan or not….you must at least give this album a listen to because quite frankly Taylor is just plain awesome. Her songs are catchy and fun and I love her because she’s just so full of life. So please….hear me speak…..LISTEN TO THE ALBUM!!!!
#4 ~ Dark is the way, Light is the Place by Anberlin (Sept. 7)….In the past few years Anberlin has become one of my favourite alternative rock bands….I enjoyed their last album entitled “New Surrender” but I’d still have to say their album “Cities” would have to be my favourite. I’ve heard rumours that this album is supposed to be a darker one so the verdict’s out for me. I guess I’ll have to wait and find out if it ranks anywhere close to Cities.
#5 ~ Kaleidoscope Heart by Sara Bareilles (Sept. 7)…..Sarah Bareilles has one of the strongest, most powerful voices in the music industry today….you want to listen to her music when you’re in a “chill” mood with a cup of coffee in hand, out for a late night cruise or blogging on your computer ;). I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the highlights from this album.
#6 ~ Nothing Like This by Rascal Flatts (Nov. 16)…..Rascal Flatts never lets me down with every album they come out with. I love these guys for making music that moves me, makes me want to dance and makes me wish I had a country accent. I’m pretty sure there will be nothing like their new album!
Anticipate Anticipate Anticipate!!!!