“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The gift of time

As I mentioned, I just got back from a wonderful conference at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, hosted by Dr. John Swinton, which featured Dr. Jean Vanier and Dr. Stanley Hauerwas.

One of the ideas which came through at the conference was the notion of being a "friend of time" or giving "the gift of time" to persons with cognitive disabilities in particular, but to persons with disabilities in general. I believe it was Vanier who spoke about how those who are well connected in society have little time while those who are not well connected have a great deal of time available to them. The question is how to bring these two groups together. One way is for the well connected to slow down. To become a friend of time rather than a slave to time. It requires serious life changes on their part to make this happen.

Coincidentally, as Kathi and I were hurrying from flight to flight on the way home, at one point I exited the plane behind a man who appeared to either have hemiplegia or who had had a stroke. His slow movement caused the line to slow down quite a bit. It struck me even in that situation, that I needed only to slow down a bit to his walking pace to still get where I wanted to go. I was literally physically slowed down, and for a moment experienced "exiting from an airplane" from his perspective in terms of the time it took.

The conference conversation also talked about taking the time to just have fun together with others. Vanier spoke of how most of the time he spends with his friends with cognitive disabilities is spent "fooling around" with them. I was encouraged by this from such a respected man as that is how I spend much of the time when I am with my friends with cognitive disabilities. He said there is also lots of celebrating of little things in life, taking time to celebrate those things.

For about 5 months of this year, I was spending one evening a week (for about an hour or so) at a group home on my way home from work. We would talk, eat some ice cream, have a catch with a baseball, or they would encourage me as I try to learn to play the guitar. They are always there, ostensibly waiting for me as I hurry from place to place. Being with them was a chance for me to slow down and try to be a friend of time with them. I the connected one, being with those who are less or not connected.

Luke 12:48 says, "every one to whom much is given, of him much will be required..." Much will be required of the well placed in society, not the least of which is their time. I am well placed, but even the well placed know that they have time if they make it. Please don't tell me you are too busy, because I am too busy too. But I have the ability, partly because I am well placed, to become a friend of time, and give of my time to those who would enjoy my company. It is a choice I have to make. It begins with me being realistic with myself, and calling myself into account for the choices I make.

McNair (fcbu)


Dan Morehead said...

I was at the conference as well and it's too bad we didn't meet. Thank you for your reflections here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr, Mcnair,
My name is Jessica and I am in you EDU 341 class. Ever since i have been in this class, I have looked at a bit differently, but in a good way. I never really stopped and realized there are people who have disabilities in my own church and I have never done anything about it. It is not the fact that I wasn't interested, it is just that it had never been important to me. I am always so busy and always on the go to were sometimes i don't even appreciate life. When I read this about the gift of time, it really touched my heart. I realized that I need to slow down in life. I currently serve in childrens minstry at my church every Sunday and for the first time I walked into the ministry with disabled children. It almost brought me to tears to see just how loving and wonderful these children are. I need to be a friend of time also. I am going to slow down in life and take time to make a difference in someones life who may not be connected. Jesus our Lord had an amazing heart for the disabled and so can I. I realized how important it is to someone who has a disability to just sit down and listen to them. I feel they are more real and more honest then we as a society will ever be. I am excited to see what else I learn in this class because it is all new for me. Thankyou, because you have inspired me to reach out to people with disabilities and give up my time for something that is significant. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

The idea of time as a gift is an inspiration to me. I am humbled as I think about how impatient I can be somtimes with the little guy, with CP, I work with. I feel convicted because of the frustration I feel when he won't move as quickly as I would like him to.

He is so empowered when he is in his powered chair, his self sufficiency and self advocacy, so important; but I get frustrated simply because I forget it takes time for his muscles to respond to his brain and upshift or down shift the speed of his chair.

He never wants special consideration for his condition; in his power chair he always stays on the "yellow line" like all the other kids. I get impatient with that, I want to cut across the quad like the other kids in chairs do,I want a class of kindergartners to stop just so a wheel chair can get by; but "Isaac" doesn't. He wants to be the same as everyone else, no special accomodations needed.

I am in awe of his courage and determination to succeed in the world. He just needs a little more time to get things done. Lord, give me the patience to go at his speed, not mine.

fellista said...

Hi, my name is Danny and I used to have problems getting my dog under my control. In fact, I lost all self confidence at some stage and

Anonymous said...

Maria Irineo
EDU 541
Professor McNair
Church and Disability Activity Part 3
October 11, 2006
I really enjoyed reading about the article called The Gift of Time, because it gives us great examples on ways that we can spend and share time with a person with cognitive disabilities. It is true that there are many times when we have it in our hearts and we do want to make life fun and a little more social for a person with cognitive disabilities but we keep telling ourselves that there is no time. We sometimes get upset when we think that people do not understand us, but what we are really doing is trying to excuse ourselves from doing things that interfere with our busy schedules.
The Gift of Time, it can have so many meanings, but to me the most important meaning, is to make someone happy by sharing your friendship with them. Being a friend to someone who does not have any friends can mean so much in this person’s life. You can give them the gift of making them feel wanted in this difficult world that they are living in.
It is important for us to make extra time from our busy schedules to join a community group, or to start a group that can have members that are willing to just take the time to make a difference in someone’s life and just be a friend to them. These people with cognitive and physical disabilities are human beings who are a step behind us and it is up to us to slow down and hold their hand and let them walk with us.

rebecca wagoner said...

Rebecca Wagoner
October 13, 2006

What a wonderful article to read. It is so true that not enough time is taken for the things that truly matter. I myself have taken on so many tasks of which my intentions were to make differences in the lives of children. There are now so many things I am involved in that I wonder how much of that time is in all actuality making a difference.
I enjoyed tremendously hearing about your one hour a week spent at the group home and I bet you got more out of that than anybody else did. It seems to happen that way when you offer yourself to the good of others. I am also very glad that you invited your disabled friends to class so that we all could spend time together. I have't had that good of a time in a while. I admit that I was nervous thinking that there would be no way to communicate with these people but in the end, I left with cheeks that burned with pain from all of the smiling. What an awesome group of folks.

One last thing, I want to thank you for bringing the realization up in class about how disabled people don't feel their life is bad. I think society generally believes that the disabled feel this way and so they think the disabled feel that way as well. The lack of interaction allows for predetermined notions of sadness and disappointment to come into play which is a darn shame.

Thank you for all you do, thank you for the newfound understandings.

Anonymous said...

hi Dr, McNair,
after reading this message it really touched me in a way of guilt weighing heavily on my heart. i have not given of my self to these brothers and sisters in need a helping hand, and a friend. it does not take much for us, the children of God to hold out a hand or two and share the word of god and his works. its it truly amaizing how god has laid a hand opon these people and blessed them tremendiously. they totally look at the glass being half full rather than half empty. my first experience with disabled people was when you brought in your friends and i cannot say enought how that night in class changed me. the night of and even the following day i couldnt speak of anything else more exciting to me than that night. i told everyone how wonderful these people are and how blessed they really are. i realized that the littlest things in life brighten up their day. a simply hello and a hand wave totally move these people. simplying siting down and listening to them bring joy to their hearts but it also bring GREAT JoY to my heart. i am guilty of not helping my brothers and sisters. i never stopped to relize that there are handicaped people at my church and what is the church doing to help bring these blessed people into our fellowship? i admitt that i am always on the go, from work to school to events and other errands that just take up my day, but that is no excuse for me to not help. god calls us to love. 1 Johns "but anyone who does not love does not know god- for god is love. if god has a heart for these people so can i as well as the rest of us. if we all do a little part in helping our lives and everyone elses lives will be a little easer and more importantly in the WILL of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you Mcnair because u have opened my eye to a much brighter side of this insane world, these people know how to love and care for one another. thank you for moviating me to become involved with this special community that live amongst us.