Like many others in the disability community, this terrible letter found its’ way in front of me. Much has been said about it, thankfully the community of Ontario has rallied in support of the family for whom the letter was meant. In reading this horrible letter, I think there’s one word that strikes me as worth thinking about. The rest of it is a caricature of fear and ignorance and the resulting loss of human perspective on the spirit of community. We sometimes call that resulting loss “hate” but I think that word doesn’t really explain what happens when a person sees the world narrowly, selfishly, hopelessly. I think of that way of seeing the world as the most sad and tragic of circumstances—for the person who sees that way. What’s the right word? I like “lost.” That Mom who wrote that letter, whoever she is, is lost in confusion, terror and anger. Alas, she thinks that her neighbor is the cause of her confusion, terror and anger. That’s what always happens. But the cause is her own. She has made herself lost. Alas.
But the word that interests me is “God.” She writes the word with an implied harumph. But the word jumps off the page for me. We all have different ways of defining “God” but the one I like best I heard just a few weeks ago from the great spiritual master, Thomas Keating. He said, “God is just a nickname because we don’t have a word to describe the indescribable beauty of unconditional love. The nickname is just there to invite us to experience that beauty in our every waking moment. That nickname means simply that each of us is already everything we could ever desire to be. Maybe the better nickname might be ‘freedom.’”
I love that definition—we are everything we could ever desire to be—already! Now that makes sense! My heart and love and admiration goes out to the Begley family and to their son Max. As their neighborhood responds to this terribly lost person who wrote this terribly lost letter, I hope and believe they will respond with love and freedom. I also know that the whole world of Special Olympics joins this family in celebration of all the gifts that they are.
That writer did say one thing that makes sense: “God!” With that beauty and freedom and unconditional love, even this painful and hurtful moment can be transformed.