This morning I offered the following prayer to the universe.
“When caring, empathy, and concern for the common good seems in increasingly short supply, the weight of life seems heavy. Lord, as we fight in the here and now, bring us into your kingdom should we fall to the forces of this world.”
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a United Methodist minister and you can believe as I do or not, and that’s ok, but there’s one thing that seems true to me regardless of your system of belief or nonbelief. That is, people with disabilities, along with other people on the margins, find themselves increasingly on the outside. In fact, let me be clear so you don’t get distracted by any nuances of my point. I, Christopher Wylie: Citizen, tax payer, husband, father of my 10 year old daughter, Hope, and more, find myself increasingly on the outside looking in.
This is not a new phenomenon of course. This wall which I have felt at various times in my life, and I’m feeling especially close right now, has served as a barrier to people of color, women, people of same sex orientation, people with disabilities like myself, and others for hundreds of years in our country; possibly since its inception. Of course, you could say, “This is a problem from the beginning. You said so yourself.” And, you’d be correct in your statement. Except, to suggest a problem is too big to take on simply because it seems insurmountable neglects another very important truth which is that many great women and men have also fought throughout time to ensure the benefits of society don’t just go to the advantaged, often they who deem themselves most deserving, but to the lowly, the downtrodden, and the marginalized too.
The United States just celebrated Memorial Day to remember men and women who died to protect this very notion while serving in the Armed Services. Personally, I celebrate all those who have contributed to the fight of the disadvantaged whether here at home or abroad; those who saw fit to take up arms and pacifists alike. You see, that is not just the mark of a great country but the best of our human spirit. Lifting up all, and not just some people, is something to strive for; a gift to seek even if at great cost because the highest of ourselves is achieved collectively.
What does all this have to do with parenting? I’m glad you asked. My daughter is not named, Hope, without reason. I can imagine nothing worse than her growing up to feel a sense of increased hopelessness I see in so many today; something with which they don’t struggle alone. I have had my own bouts of anxiety and depression as a result of the pressures I feel in our world today. I fight them on a daily basis and my opening prayer, this entire post, comes out of my fight today.
In the end, though, even as I wish I had more answers, I find the most value in fighting through life’s questions.
I’m grateful for the support of family and friend who make the thought of going forward possible even when it’s my scariest thought. Out of the little I know for certain, knowing we all deserve a space, our place at the table, and a place where we are valued, loved, and cared for matters most as an inherent part of our personhood regardless of any differentiation we may claim.
Instead of feeling caught in between, not knowing her value, where she belong, or to whom she matters, as I’ve often felt, more than anything else, I just want my daughter to know she will always have a place to call home. I want this for her both while I’m here and long after I’m gone.
I want this for you too; whoever you are. You matter. You are loved. If you have never heard, you are a gift beyond cost. More than even minimum care and respect, you deserve opportunity to be your best. I hope you’ll join me as we seek our best home together.