Newsletter – December, 2000

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 2, No. 12 December 2000

As we mark the end of another year, another century, and another millennium, I note with interest a Christian radio program and a Sunday school discussion this morning. So I’ll give you just a few thoughts as I bring this second year of Companion Resources Newsletter to a close.

The Sunday school discussion was about tradition and change. It seems that now that our baby boomer generation is sending our children to college, we look at change a bit differently than we used to. Maybe our children do as well.

The radio program called to mind the Judeo-Christian perspective that time doesn’t just march on forever. Time had a beginning, created by God, and will also have an end. The commentator noted that images and thoughts about the “end times” are scary to most people. Our minds find it hard to grasp a state of being not connected to time.

What I think is missing in most of these discussions is the notion of how much we as human beings want to control our own lives. When we are young and exploring our place in the world, and especially when we have grown up with security and love, it is easy to be adventurous and we want vigorously to promote our ideals. We want to find a world which we can control, a place to “make a difference.”

As we get older, we find that we can’t change the world. We settle for control over some particular pieces of the world right around us. Once we find our comfort zone in a piece of the world that we can control to a certain extent, we become more defensive when the next generation comes along and points out that even that piece has to change to fit the ideals we profess.

Those of us who live and work with persons with special needs live more on the cutting edge day by day. Yes, we certainly can come to points of acceptance of persons for who they are and what they can do. This is good. But if we are honest, we are also very much reminded of all of the limitations, the disabilities, the imperfections that are a part of our world. We are reminded that we still live in a society that does not value persons for who they are, but for what they do and the economic value they create.

We continue to struggle to find ways to provide every possibility for the persons we love to be all that they can be without ourselves seeming to be beggars at every turn. It’s hard to be on a waiting list for full funding for a person to live in a decent home where he is well cared for. It is awkward to have to say that we can’t use the volunteer labor to finish the building in which we live until that extra few thousand dollars is raised for materials. It is a struggle to know what to do when organizations trying to do the work can’t even provide the basic benefits that employees need.

Then I start multiplying the struggles that I feel many times over as I think about persons in other times and places who fare even worse than what I experience. It gives me a different perspective about the end times. I can understand how what is scary to some is indeed “good news” to others.

For I, too, look forward to a “time” when all persons will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. I look forward to the “new age” when the needs of all people will be provided for. I long for a day when total love will prevail and what is “mine” and “yours” won’t matter. I think in wonder about what it will be like when my son and his friends will all be able to communicate with me and all of us will understand fully.

If I think about the end of time in that manner, it is not as scary. I don’t have to be the one in control; that is where my faith tells me that the One who is all-loving is already in control.

I also know that this is not just some new version of pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by kind of mentality. I love the life I have been given and the dream I have been given. My faith tells me that the best way to honor the ideals of a golden age to come is to be at work in the present with others to put them into effect as best I can. I can live and love and grow to the fullest as long as I have life on this earth. I can also rejoice and give thanks for the companions on the journey whose contributions are perhaps different than mine but also vitally important.

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To honor the spirit of these ideals, the newest Companion Resources page shares effective models of community that seek to include persons who have significant differences. I invite you to check out the Community Models page [not currently available] and renew your own sense of vision..

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So I count it at privilege at the stroke of midnight to enter this new marking of time we call 2001, a new century and a new millennium. Let’s all give our loved ones a hug and resolve together to preserve the best of our traditions while inviting and indeed even initiating the changes that are still needed for all persons to feel safe, loved, and valued.

Have a happy and blessed New Year!!

Paul D. Leichty

The Goldenrod Community

Middlebury, Indiana

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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