“Indifference and Illness: a Response to the May 2017 Repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”

In my doctoral dissertation, a document where I discuss the ways that baptism and Holy Communion can help people with disabilities to create just and loving communities within the Church, I recently wrote the following: “Because human beings are social creatures, and because sociality is based in a desire for intimacy, social spaces dedicated to the protection of bodily difference and premised on sacramental expressions of love are possible for all.”

In the part I’ve quoted, I assert that human beings need friendship and intimacy, because intimacy creates the space for dignified life with justice. Moreover, I imply that dignified life with justice is predicated firmly on the respect and protection of embodied difference, and that the sacraments express that fundamental love and respect for difference.

I realize that I’m an idealist. I know that not everyone shares my belief-system. That’s all right; you need not. That said, as a man with spastic cerebral palsy, and as a theologian of disability, I believe that every body—EVERYBODY!—has value…

And thus, I assert that the current Republican administration’s recent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is reprehensible, because it flies in the face of all those values. The repeal of the ACA denies affordable health-insurance to valuable, and vulnerable, people. People with varied medical conditions will no longer be able to afford the things that they need in order to flourish (like, well, medicine)! This decision horrifies me, because it could well end by condemning people to death. It is horrendous because—even as they invoke the holy name of the Lord Jesus—some people in power in the States DENY to other people the love of Jesus, expressed in his living ministry of healing and hospitality, and irrevocably demonstrated by his self-giving death on a Roman cross! I feel inexpressible pain; I weep as I write.

I’m not an American citizen. I’m a Canadian citizen by birth, and a citizen of the world. To quote Alfred Lord Tennyson, “I am a part of all that I have met.” Every person’s pain affects mine, to some degree. Thus, I feel fear and pain for all those who experience illness and disability in the States, for many will now experience others’ indifference to their illnesses and their desires for companionship. Many have been, or will be, cut off from livelihood, and (perhaps) from life.

I dissent, in the strongest possible terms; and with all that I am, I resist.

“Pursuit.”

Since childhood, I have frequently had the feeling of being pursued on the street. That’s only happened to me once or twice, mind you; I still feel that way quite frequently. I feel like people are following me with more than just their eyes…and oddly, I often feel as though my nameless pursuers know me…

I feel like Wordsworth does in Tintern Abbey lines 70-72: I feel as though I flee one I dread, rather than ardently pursuing the one I love.

This poem is about that complex set of feelings.


Pursuit

I cannot say what visions wait for me

Where fate wears many forms and varied hues;

There, symbol yields to rigid symmetry

And I still hear the tap of soft-soled shoes.

I can’t be certain why I feel this dread,

Although it’s always hidden in my mind.

Reality still messes with my head:

I run, for I can hear them just behind.

I can’t escape. My right foot marks me lame.

Now I can hear the fervent murmurs, too.

I listen for the sound of my true name,

And turn to face my follower. It’s you.

You are the one I long for and yet fear;

You are the one who has pursued me here.

“Sleep.”

Tonight I am very tired. Thus, this one pretty much explains itself.


Sleep

Beyond the veil of painted reverie,

Below the beta-waves of soft repose,

The cloak of darkness waits to cover me,

To soothe me till I’m calm and comatose.

The desperation of the harried day,

Like fledging birdsong in the morning dew,

Will murmur and then slowly fade away.

True dreamless rest will leave no residue.

The sentry of my mind will leave his post

And symbol will give way to symmetry.

I’ll see the things I love and long for most

Encumbered with the garment Mystery.

A gentle sleep will steal upon my soul;

A moment’s pause, and I’ll awaken whole.

“April Rain.”

I wrote this one just now, a few minutes ago, after a long day. I’ll let it speak for itself.


April Rain

I didn’t feel quite like myself today,

But I can feel the steady flame in me

Illuminate the man I’m meant to be.

The vision gives me something more to say

As I seek out my path at close of day.

 

What is the image of myself I see?

I’ll be more steadfast. I’ll be brave and strong.

I’ll sing and shout for love and equity,

With celebration as my joyous song.

I see it coming now. It won’t be long.

 

I’ll listen for lament, for grief and wrong.

I’ll lend my ear to one who cries in pain.

Our pain and promise will pervade our song.

Hatred may threaten us again, again;

Our love will drown its roar, like April rain.

 

Our fruitful life will sing its soft refrain;

Our sweetest notes will blend and intertwine.

Our long-lived joys, both intricate and plain,

Will be our blessing, and our earthly gain

As whiskey turns to water turns to wine.

“Revelations.”

I wrote this last night. I’ll just say that it’s deliberately allusive. 🙂


Revelations

A touch is revelation, and the grace

Of conversation lights my soul afire;

I’m haunted by my longing for a face.

My memory still feeds the deep desire

For cups of coffee, and for gentle speech.

I don’t feel dizzy yet. I feel alive;

Affection is right here, within our reach.

By small steps, we press on, and we arrive.

We stand between a dream and firm intent;

We grasp quicksilver truth with every word.

Our meeting is not fate, or accident;

It is the lilt of songs we’ve not yet heard.

A gentle smile’s soft possibility

Reveals whole worlds full of intimacy.

“Heaven’s Shroud.”

This is Thai, wine, and Buffy part two. I liked writing this one more, since it’s more coherent. I hope you like it. 🙂


Heaven’s Shroud

The saxophone will soothe my solemn soul,

Enfolding me in bliss, like Heaven’s shroud.

It soars above the dark, persistent roll

Of Cameron’s drums, too sharp, too thick, too loud.

Light brushes chase the migraine from my heart,

Erasing every pulse of stabbing light;

They tear the sign and signified apart,

And bring my bleary mind to gentle night.

I smile through all the alcoholic haze,

Forgetting frequent pain from too much thought.

I climb the stairs to sleep for several days,

To rest from meditating on my lot.

I sleep, to cultivate an open mind,

The better to embrace the joy I find.

“Holy Water.”

So this evening, my roommates bought Thai, and we ate, and drank, and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer…

and this is the partial result. 🙂 I hope you like it.


Holy Water

The saxophone still melts into my soul,

Imbuing it with L.A. summer’s bronze,

Reminding me of happy August haze,

Of speeding down the freeways of my mind.

Propulsive brass will ferment in the heart

And bless us with the bass-clef pulse of life.

The empath feels the vital cosmic flow,

The galaxy of red that flows away,

Into the dark expanse of sleeping mind.

Its energy still moves away from me,

Like climbing hills on a recumbent bike,

Like running to the music in my head.

 

There is no surefire way to tame its course;

There’s no solution in a glass of wine,

And pad Thai offers only longing for

The satiation of the peanut sauce,

The endless, flowing rills of bass-clef bliss.

No hell-mouth violence will chase it home,

No holy water make it disappear.

Free jazz can heal the cleft in heathen souls.

A friendly horn will guide us to our joy.