These past few weeks have been an interesting part of my journey. I went to the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in Toronto, Canada. I was nervous about going for two reasons. First, I had never used my passport before and second, I felt I would be out-of-my element in participating. I was nervous but doing civil disobedience in Raleigh a couple of weeks before, had given me courage to do anything.
I’m still processing it and probably will be doing so for a long time. For this reason, I won’t be writing much about it at this time other than to say, it was an incredible experience and I so look forward to attending the next one. Theology and disability is a growing movement and it was so wonderful to be around others across the world involved in it. My interest has been ignited and I hope to continue with this.
I’m so very tired of hearing brain injury survivors say, “God allowed this to happen to me for a reason.” I feel I’ve gained some knowledge and contacts, so I’ll be able to think more deeply about brain injury and theology. I really did push myself by going and it is clear I still need time to recuperate from it. However, I do know that given enough time, my body will be back to normal. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll even do some writing about theology and brain injury for not much has been written about it.
I do want to say one thing about this Institute, though. I stayed at the Chestnut Conference Center at the University of Toronto. It was a dorm for the university which made for a rather interesting stay. Some of the dorm rooms are rented out for conference participants and other visitors to stay in while visiting Toronto. Michael flew up to be with me at the end of the conference so we stayed a couple of days beyond the Institute.
On our last night there, we were both exhausted and tried to get a good night’s sleep before traveling back home. I had a direct flight there but our flight home meant going to Boston and changing planes. At about 6 AM, the fire alarm went off. We were on the 19th floor and neither one of us wanted to leave our beds for a fire alarm – Michael in particular. Finally, it became clear that it wasn’t a false alarm and we had no choice but to walk down the 19 floors to get outside. I couldn’t help thinking about 9.11 as we walked down each flight.
Here is a picture Michael took of the Chestnut Center after we evacuated that night. I couldn’t handle the stimulation of the crowd so we found a quiet place away from it. I had grabbed my earplugs (I have no idea why I thought to do this) and put them in to “rest my brain.” The fire trucks came but after a while, we were given the sign to go back in. We thought it would be faster just to walk the 19 floors back up then wait for everyone to crowd in the elevators so that’s what we did. It’s funny but we were the only ones who walked back up. At least we got our exercise!