Friday, May 07, 2010

Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community

My friend Anne Mitchell brought me a copy of this book. It's a wonderful story. You can order the book from Inclusion Press. It's the story of Mr. Waddie Welcome and the circle of support that gathered around him. It is a story of community.

Mr. Welcome had cerebral palsy and until those closest to him had died he lived at home. Afterwards he was moved into a nursing home and after that the story in the book picks up. It is the story of his neighbors, friends and a community of folks (a circle of support one could call it) that gathered around Mr. Welcome to see that he could continue to give his gifts in community with others. And he did. And it is a glorious, uplifting, beautiful story.

A documentary was made in 1997 that tells his story. You can see a clip about it on youtube here.

It is a story that challenges me to think about how it is that this kind of care can be multiplied. I think about the economists I read - who write about "nudges" and about ways in which things actually happen rather than ways we would like to imagine things happening. How do stories like the story of Mr. Welcome and his community get encouraged -- so that we can see that it is not the exception, but the rule?

I've been thinking more and more that it takes truly re-structuring our lives, our communities, and our organizations. You would think that the Church would be particularly adept at that - following Jesus, and even having seasons like Lent - where, in effect, we try to "re-structure" our lives around different patterns that we hope will hold beyond the season. But the Church just like other institutions - finds it difficult to encourage freedom, instead we fight for the institutions survival. You would think that an institution founded on the teaching that "losing leads to finding" and that follows a leader who was killed, but that wasn't the end of the story - would be encouraged and blessed and challenged by that. I hope that we are. I try to remind myself of that all the time.