Saturday, February 08, 2014
A Love Story
Wednesday was a miserable enough day to have an early evening meeting cancelled but by seven the snow had stopped and we drove downtown in Belleville to see the Quebec film, Gabrielle. It touched both of us for a number of reasons. It is a story of love between two developmentally challenged young adults, Gabrielle and Martin, who sing in the same choir. It is also about how the love of singing has a transformative power. And it is about the fierce love between siblings, Gabrielle and her sister Sophie. When Gabrielle and Martin are separated because of an overprotective mother then pine for one another, the way any love-struck couple might.
While we lived in Halifax my wife Ruth worked in a group home for developmentally challenged adults for several years, as did our son Isaac. They enjoyed the residents, as quirky and demanding as they could be at times. They were persons, with likes and dislikes, and yes they wanted to be loved and to be in love.
I connected with these folk as well, going on one occasion to inform them of the death of one co-residents who died of a heart attack. This was very emotional. Two of them, Ian and George, attended the church I served. Ian looked and dressed like a dignified university professor, which was the former profession of his aged father. Ian had the mind of a six-year-old though, and it was painful for him not to be able to go to Sunday School or associate with "kids his age." George had a girlfriend and he came to me to talk about getting married. As with the young adults in the film, George wanted to be like other people, and while group homes support relationships, including sexual relationships, issues such as marriage are much more complex. In the end she spurned him for another and he was heartbroken.
Gabrielle was such a good reminder that developmentally challenged adults have spiritual needs, relational hopes, sexual desires. We need to be aware of this as a culture and respectful at the same time. As Christians we say that God loves everyone, and so we can be specific about what that means in terms of welcome and support. Tom is an example at Bridge St. UC. He is part of the family and he knows it!