Lockdown! I’m so over it. Who’s with me?
This global pandemic has put a definite crimp in my style, and I’m ready to chalk it up to one of those milestone, once-in-a-lifetime events that I’d rather put behind me.
But wait! Maybe I should just sit quietly in the COVID-19-induced stillness for a bit. Eyes closed. Deep breaths. Slowed heart rate. Listening to that still small voice. (1Kings 19:12)
There’s an opportunity here. I just know it!
When again will I ever experience such a pause?
I have a choice:
I can wait for the powers that be to get things sorted and back to normal – recovery – or, I can take this time to dig and sift and sort and be part of something entirely new and amazing – discovery.
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to know that I choose “amazing.”
So, here’s what’s coming up for me …..
Back in 1989 (don’t worry; I promise to wrap this up in fairly short order .. heh heh), I met John L McKnight, co-founder, Asset-Based Community Development Institute. This was definitely one of those milestone, once-in-a-lifetime moments. It was life altering.
I know that that meeting with John changed my DNA. It’s when I first heard the term “strong, healthy community.” It’s when I was made aware of the importance of reciprocity. And of recognizing every single person’s giftedness. And it was the moment when I could no longer look at our daughter (who was born with multiple disabilities) in terms of brokenness, or what was wrong, or what needed fixing.
No, from the moment of my meeting John McKnight and hearing his message, my life and the life of our daughter were irrevocably changed.
Our lives were set on a trajectory that might be described as challenging, unexpected, even radical.
The next 30 years were focused on the following:
- Discerning our daughter’s strengths and interests
- Helping her to use these to live into her potential
- Finding others who could truly see our daughter and what she has to contribute, beyond the disability
- Nurturing reciprocal, sustainable relationships
- Building around her a strong, healthy community, and
- Helping others to do the same with other people who live with intellectual and developmental disability.
And all of this has yielded what I call a “fantastic life” for our daughter.
Then, along comes a global pandemic.
Who knew that it would take the world being brought to its knees to show me how our daughter’s “fantastic life” has been somewhat of an illusion – a house of cards, waiting to topple over.
And that’s just what happened.
COVID-19 hit. Followed by lockdown. Our daughter lost her job; the gym closed down; her apartment building was off limits to social activity; the mall closed down, along with the coffee shops; no more haircuts, dental appointments, pedicures; no more kibitzing with bank tellers and bus drivers; not even in-person church services. Grocery shopping became impossible and had to be delegated. Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and even supportive neighbours and friends were off limits.
Our daughter’s “fantastic life” came to a grinding halt. And so did mine.
After 11 full years of enjoying watching our daughter living her own life, in her own home, on her own terms, she is living with her dad and me, with us providing 24/7 support.
Life as we had known it has stopped. Who knows, maybe gone forever. Maybe for only a short while more. But definitely for the duration. We are isolated in our family bubble. And, although feeling blessed by God’s protection and provision, we are all exhausted – by the not doing; by the constant vigilance; and, mostly, by the not knowing.
I don’t know a lot, but I do find comfort in knowing one thing for sure – I won’t be waiting for “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men to put Humpty Dumpty together again.”
I know that the King’s services (i.e. governmental, institutional or developmental service agency resources) will not be the answer. They could, I suppose, in some way, provide some supplemental assistance, but, I am certain, our daughter’s life will be rebuilt with what our community has to offer her.
Our efforts now, as in the past, will focus on becoming great at asking. We will ask more. And we will help others to ask. Because people are waiting to be asked: How might Laura’s gifts and strengths and talents fill a gap that needs filling? Who in our community is just waiting to be introduced? Who else is ready for Discovery – for “amazing?”
In early March 2020, I had the privilege of sitting down with Cormac Russell, a student and protégé of the aforementioned John L McKnight. Cormac, like me, it seems, is a GMO, so immensely has he been impacted by his relationship with John, and by what he has learned. We could not know then how valuable his message would be for such a time as this.
I invite you to listen in on our conversation, so you, too, might understand that our way through these unprecedented times lies with what might be discovered on the other side of Humpty Dumpty’s wall.
Visit Nurture Development to learn about Cormac’s work, and to become engaged with it.
Look for Cormac’s most recent book, Rekindling Democracy: A Professional’s Guide to Working in Citizen Space, in your local book store, or visit https://wipfandstock.com/rekindling-democracy.html. (I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my own copy!)
And, visit my own web site, https://viscardis.ca/ , to find out more about me.
Also, visit North Star Café to enjoy a few other “fireside chats.”