Many social commentators suggest that modern life and its business and fast pace is making zombies out of us all, and so teased by this call I looked up what a ‘zombie’ is and learnt it is someone who moves around as if unconscious. It somehow described my celebration of yesterday’s Church feast of the Annunciation. I tried to engage the theology of it all until I drifted into a zombie-like state and after an hour of meditation, I had had the event but definitely not the experience. However, I did vaguely promise that, like the young woman of Nazareth, today I at least would stay alert to the mystery we call God that hovers over Ruben Centre. The day went along okay and at night I reported to a few brothers here that the day was pretty uneventful.
Today I woke up much more alive and in my morning ritual I suddenly was truly conscious; wallowing in meaning and revelation. The experience of yesterday suddenly became flesh and in my body and soul and I own this mystery that is near. Yes, yesterday was made known to me and I heard - Rejoice highly favoured … Own and celebrate what the women of those special needs children were telling you! Those mothers of the Special Needs children were having their monthly support meeting and sharing openly with the Centre counsellor, Sr Eliza.
They got sharing about last month’s visit by Kurt Fearnley, his mother and a bunch of other Australians. Nearly an hour into it, they suddenly stopped and taking on the persona of a General, insisted that Br Frank be found and be brought to listen to them. “He must hear this,” they said.
Sr Eliza was summoned and on finding me, led me in and coming among them they just fired up, taking it in turns to stand up and be heard.
Br Frank, you have no idea how much we have got from Kurt and his mother’s visit to us. There is no shame in having a child with disabilities. Disability is not black. I was always anxious about my child doing some activities but seeing Kurt I stopped being over-protective. I now understand my son has autism spectrum disorder. I understand his abilities and limits. Our bodies do not define us. We have seen power in weakness. My struggles are not unique. My child is no more a baggage. We will go far. Through you Br Frank we have a school and teachers who understand/love our children. Seeing Kurt and his mother and listening to them especially his mother and how she refused to be defined and contained by others expectations has shed a great light on us. My child also can, I can. We now have hopes and plans for our children. We want to learn a skill in the vocation Training area and so be empowered to take better care of our children. Darkness is no more. Br Frank, this was your doing, and this is why we were strong enough to insist on you coming to hear us.
Imagine! How did this come about? (Later I was to learn one mother who spoke loudest and longest, had taken nearly a year to share her story and tame her shame.)
I listened to each mother and as she sat down, and as the other women would clap, our eyes would meet as brother and sister and each time I fought back tears while muttering, 'Asante' or 'thank you'.
Done … and when all had been said, all eyes were on me. I paused and paused again and finally knowing there was no place to hide, I launched into a spirited reply. The Swahili flowed as I picked up on some of the comments and emotions that they had poured out to me. I left and went back to work. Yes, a true zombie I was and this morning that was revealed.
“How can this be?” I asked. “How could I refuse to own, take on board, and rejoice in the mystery made flesh in those mothers yesterday?”
“Rejoice Frank, be a zombie no more. Get over it. Be blessed!
Today you hear his voice harden not your heart. (Luke 1: 26-38)
Source: Ruben Centre https://www.rubencentre.org/
The Ruben Centre is a Kenyan based, non-profit, faith-based organisation striving for an empowered and just Mukuru community by providing quality education, health, financial and social services to children and families in the area. It is run by the Christian Brothers African Province.