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!



Judy Mcknight said...

It was a big step for our church to welcome Tom, just as he is ,,, I am proud of us for doing so - but I should not have to be - it should be natural for the church to be warm and welcoming to ALL who come through our doors...

Laurie said...

Will have to look out for this film. Sounds like it would be a good watch.

Laura said...

I am a bit of a sucker for these kinds of movies. I think of Benny and Joon, and Mozart and the Whale and think that although these are fictional stories, there is truth in them. As you say, David, these stories open our eyes to the whole person, and often there is much to be learned from the purity of their thoughts and actions...pure, in an unfiltered way, if that makes sense.
I keep thinking as the United Church explores "affirming" that this body of people should be right up there in our focused welcome.
I remember a young girl I went to Sunday School with who had Down's Syndrome....years later she got a job at McDonalds, met a young fellow of similar abilities and they shared an apartment and took care of each other. They may have married. I am not sure. I admired her Mom and Dad deeply, for letting Suzy be all that she could be, even though I know they must have worried greatly. I was back to that church for a funeral not long ago, and asked for them and they were still a happy pair.

David Mundy said...

I like your story Laura. It is really the story Gabrielle tells.

It was interesting on Sunday that Tom was on his feet to conduct "This Little Light of Mine" on Sunday Judy. Not only did he feel free to do so, there were many smiles in the congregation at his obvious joy.