This painting by Jack Baumgartner portrays Jacob Wrestling the Angel from the book of Genesis. It’s a central metaphor for this blog – wrestling with life, health, urban issues, and even with God.
AnyWho, now to day-to-day life stuff. Our lives are unbelievably full of ups and downs but this has been an unusual week full of extreme highs and lows. I won’t get into the details of either of those except to say that the lows hurt me deeply and the highs encouraged me greatly.
So my power chair has an odometer on it and it showed me that I crossed the 1000 km mark this week. For whatever reason I love that it keeps track of how far I’ve gone. I’ve gone pretty far. It’s a constant reminder that this bloody illness is not keeping me down as of yet...
It would be impossible to keep a record of all that’s happened in life, both good and bad, but this thanksgiving weekend in particular I wanted to focus on my gratitude/thankfulness. It would be easy to focus just on the deficits of life, but man I have so much to be thankful for.
Well this morning was quite a start to the day. I did my usual morning routine of the three S’s, with some help from my personal support worker of course (Well actually I didn’t shave but you know…)
For at least the past 10 years we as a family have been going to a camp to spend a week together. It has become a part of my annual rhythm of life to go there with other family friends, leave behind the day-to-day grind, enjoy being in nature, and relax. One of my favourite things to do there was to swim every afternoon in the lake. Something about floating around in lake water really does it for me (especially being able to pee guilt free in the water...) I think partially because it evens the playing field. When I’m in the water I don’t need to walk and I seem to be able to swim just fine. Like everyone else, I’m simply swimming around without the need of a mobility device.
The other day one of the people I am getting to know here at Bellwoods showed me her garden. She has been in a wheelchair for her entire life due to a disease that she was born with. She’s very smart and kind though sometimes people look down on her because they judge the disease and not the person. But I digress...
When I saw this picture for the first time, possibly a decade ago now, it pierced my heart. I just couldn’t forget it. It really spoke to me in that I felt as though it was a picture of my own story. I promised myself that I would someday tattoo that picture on my arm. Yesterday, after way too many years of thinking about it, I finally did it.
there is that big giant tree in front of me. I suppose if I knew about trees I would know what kind of tree this was. But as I gaze on it in a form of meditation, I see two things. One is a tree that is reaching to the blue sky at any cost. The other is a tree that is heavy with its burden of the leaves and branches drooping towards the ground.
It happened to be the same night that some guy in his 20s with apparently significant mental health issues took a gun and went out onto the Danforth and shot up the whole neighborhood. It was the same street that my family and I had dinner on just a few hours earlier. People lost their lives. People lost their friends. People lost their sense of safety.
One last major update is that the renovations on our home have finally kicked into high gear. Our basement is now officially demolished and we’re soon about to dig down the floor and do the underpinning so as to make our basement more liveable for me.
At Summer solstice I’m reminded that this was around the time of year when I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997. I’m ‘celebrating’ 21 years of life with this disease.
Since having to leave work because of my health, I’ve had nothing but time on my hands. And when I have all kinds of time, I have all kinds of thoughts. Lately the main one running through my head is ‘who the heck am I now?’
But here's where you might think I'm losing it; It all started with a dream. I don't remember dreams well, including this one, but I woke up the next morning feeling as though it'd be worth checking out becoming a SD myself. Up until that point in time, I never once had this thought.
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and have learned so much these past years that I could never even remember most of it all. It’s been an amazing ride. The folks who live on or near the streets have taught me so much about life, love, gratitude, community, and God. And the people I’ve worked alongside over the years, my colleagues/teammates, have been so kind, generous, educational and supportive to me I wouldn’t know where to begin to say thanks.
I’m really looking forward to the next stage of this crazy ride I'm on. I'm moving into a transitional, supportive apartment while my house gets renovated. It looks like I'll be there for the summer. It’s meant to act as a bit of a rehearsal for moving home.
But the reason for my blog is to talk about my last week of spiritual direction training. It’s been a wonderful 2-year journey. I have not been able to travel to Niagara Falls for the whole training week like I have done previously, but I have been able to take in the lectures and my small group gatherings via Skype.
So it’s here. The day when I’ve transitioned into a power-chair has finally arrived. And quite honestly, it hasn’t had the emotional impact I had expected. I actually feel quite good about it, which I did not see coming whatsoever.