Our Disabilities Are Vital to our Spirit: A Note On Being Thankful For What We Have

By Jimmy Sutman
Director of ISLE Inc.
Director of Operations for Golden String Inc.

Dear Friends,

This holiday season please let us remember that the strength of our community is measured in how it treats those on the fringes of society. Here, at ISLE, the Purple Cat, and Golden String Inc., we have the great fortune to mingle daily with some of those folks. The best parts of my day are when I get to listen to these people and hear about their dreams and fears, and their descriptions of daily life. I find humor, solace, and pain in the most minute details of their lives. These details are so important. During this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah season, please give the gift of time. Take time to really listen to what people have to say. Remember that there are people who really struggle each day due to developmental disability, physical disability, mental health issue, or other extreme hardship. Try to walk away from your conversation with a new perspective, a new idea. Jean Vanier says, “our collective failure to see in the beauty of the disabled an invitation to human growth rather than an embarrassment cries out for correction, a correction that is best effected by living in community. We need the disabled more than they need us; in their weakness is our strength.”

So, my friends, celebrate our friends with disabilities. In doing so, you gain strength. Happy Thanksgiving (I am thankful for so much, including you), Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah (“weakness and vulnerability in a person, far from being an obstacle to union with God, can foster it”). I think if we slow down and search for details, we will find them, and they will change us. My gift to you this holiday season is a poem from Charles Bukowski (If you love hearing poems read to you, please check out singer Tom Waits, reading this on YouTube):

The Laughing Heart
By Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


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