"We demand windows," C. S. Lewis once famously said describing how literature allows us to see other view points. Windows are great. They give us a glimpse of what's outside our domain. The also function as a great metaphor for opportunities.
There was a thunderstorm on Tuesday night, and I didn't watch it outside. I deliberately ignored my favourite thing in the world and watched my room light up orange through my curtains as the lightening flashed so bright trying to get my attention. I'd had a rough day. Wednesday I talked to a student about it and repented of my bad attitude from the night before. I told her if there was another storm, I'd sit and watch it and enjoy the Lord's presence. That night a real whopper came through Kandern, and I sat and watched it and enjoyed the Lord's presence. I love praying in thunderstorms. I feel like God speaks to me more frequently when it's raining; I'm more aware of his presence. I went to bed feeling like I wasn't alone in the world and that others were praying for me. I woke up the next day and had a text message from a former student asking what happened the night before because he was prompted to pray for me. How cool is that? It felt like a window that showed we were not limited to our spaces but that God was connecting us across the globe. I'm so grateful; I love my life.
This past weekend I also had a window of time outside of Kandern - and I hopped on a plane to get to Bristol for around 36 hours of wild opportunity. After landing and settling in to a hotel room that was advertised as accessible but clearly was not, I set an alarm to get me up in time to meet with a former student who now lives in Bristol. We had a lovely catch up talking about life and health and spiritual things, and I was so encouraged by it. The next portion of the trip was about celebrating Paige's birthday, so we went to a fancy hotel for a proper English tea with scones and clotted cream. Delicious; I love my life.
The trip was multipurpose though my friends' wedding reception was the primary motivation. Robbie and Emily got married in Canada this past May though they couldn't get everyone to that continent to celebrate, so they had a second reception on this side of the pond where they live. I rocked up with some friends and was greeted by Emily's dad who is one of the kindest Canadians I've ever met. (Later in the evening, he tried to recruit me to work with some mutual friends in a country closer to where he and his wife currently are stationed, and I'm not ruling it out someday.) I soon saw several other former Kandern residents and received a hug from my friend Lauren followed immediately by one she was given to pass on by my pastor Brandon. What an absolute gift; I love my life.
Lauren and I had a chance to sit down and chat for a bit at the reception, and she referenced a conversation we had months ago in the height of my prayer insomnia wildness, and she'd used the word "window" in what we understood to be someone else's opportunity. She made a comment Saturday about rethinking what "window" might mean. Before I had a chance to ponder it, Julia texted me asking if I'd heard anything from the Lord lately. I mentioned how I planned to pray about what "windows" might mean, and she proceeded to tell me some very kind things about me she'd felt the Lord share with her in prayer. After partying into the night, I went to sleep with a full heart after the positive interactions of the day. God gifted me again when I woke up with another text from a different former student on Sunday who let me know he felt God prompting him to pray for me and that he wanted to let me know he'd prayed for my healing and offered other beautiful words of encouragement. How amazing; I love my life.
Today in class my students were working on an assessment where they have to individually interpret passages by identifying historical context and explaining figurative language. I was grading them before heading home and was so blessed by the comments students made about how God is creative and expressive and loving and kind. My job allows me to not only facilitate conversations about the Bible but to see and celebrate connections being made as students engage with the Bible. One former student told me recently that my class was influential in their move from atheism to agnosticism. That's one of the highest compliments of me as a professional that I've ever received. That's a highlight as a Jesus follower that I am a part of this young person's spiritual journey; I love my life.
After school my friend Lauren showed up at my bench to carry on the conversation we started on Saturday. I shared Julia's comments, and we talked some more about windows. As she shared stories with me, I looked through a window to see how God is working in her life, and she did the same with me. We talked about how she asks the Lord every day to be the one to tell me to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus, and we agreed that the window is open to someone else right now - until God opens a new window to the next person (who I hope, like Lauren, won't hesitate). We don't choose who God opens windows to, but we do choose to look through the windows opened to us - and sometimes climb through windows like my students climb through my entry window.
I love my life; I want to walk again too.
This is a window into my complexity. I'm teaching complex character analysis to the AP lit students, and I'm frustrated that some of them are putting in less effort than others and dragging class conversations behind. I still love them dearly, but I'm disappointed in those who choose to be lazy when I know they are capable of doing more. I'm also incredibly proud of the ones who I do see working overtime in a difficult class situation as their primary teacher is currently in America and I partner with the rest of the English department to cover content in class.
I'm disappointed that I had to bring my wheelchair across the channel on this trip because it required the special booking that failed me in the end. I'm frustrated that I can't do a single step on my own or even use a shower without a stool to sit on. I'm annoyed that I have to wait for special assistance to make it through security and that I have a spike of anxiety when the security officers are rifling through my box of sterile catheters without a care for my future infections they may be causing. Sure I get to cut the line in security, but I'd trade that in a heartbeat to stand in the scanning machine instead of having to have security guards stick their hands down my pants and pat me down with varying degrees of decency.
Do you see my complexity? One of the most difficult parts of being me is to accurately portray the difficulty of disability without being a whiny pants but also show the celebrations of me without making me "inspiration porn" who is only able to do anything because of some overstated bravery in the face of my disability. No. I just love Jesus; nerve damage also sucks. Both of these things are true. Please don't look at me and see the disability, but please don't look at me and ignore the very real limitations. I do need accommodations and it is more than just an inconvenience when a hotel misleads me about accessibility. Guys, I didn't shower for that whole trip, and I did not smell good on the way home. Paige is a champ for sitting next to me literally all day. Ultimately when you look through this window today, I hope you enjoy the view. I really, really do love my life. I also hope you see that my life isn't all roses and tea. While they were out of the rose flavoured tea I wanted at the fancy restaurant, I did bring home eight Crunchie bars which are my absolute favourite British treat. Both of these things are true.
I'll wrap up with a bunch of pictures giving the caveat that I am terrible at remembering to take pictures - most of these were taken (or prompted to be taken) by Paige. Go look through some windows and let me know if you see anything interesting.