Welcome to the Mad and Crip Theology Podcast, hosted by Miriam Spies and Amy Panton, which comes out of the Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability. We both live and work lands that have been homes and remain homes to the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Huron Wendat, the Neutral and the Ojibway/Chippewa peoples and other peoples who have cared for the land. We are grateful for the opportunity to live and work on this land and are mindful of the need to repair broken covenants.
On today’s episode of the Mad and Crip Theology podcast we talk to Professor HyeRan Kim-Cragg, PhD student Elizabeth Mohler and Rev. Alexa Gilmour. We discuss their writings in the first issue of the Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability, as well as their work in theology and the disability community more broadly. HyeRan’s piece in the first issue is a sermon on mental health and racism entitled “Stings Like a Sunburn: A Sermon for Emmanuel College During the Covid-19 Pandemic” which reflects upon racism in Canadian society and the mistreatment of migrant workers within Canada during the pandemic. Elizabeth and Alexa’s piece “Coronavirus and the Ability to Love Your Neighbour” tells the story of Neighbours Helping Neighbours at Windermere United Church in Toronto. To check out their written work, head to our journal website: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/cjtmhd/index
This podcast is an opportunity to model how faith communities can engage in theological and spiritual conversations around madness and cripness. If you need a full transcript you can find videos on our Youtube channel and here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRUW9z5hoqP_WK74hg3N8bQ
We want to say that topics and conversations we are raising throughout our time together are often hard! They are hard for mad and crip people ourselves and hard for our families and loved ones. So, do what you need to do to take care of yourselves, your bodies, minds, and hearts.
The quote used in the episode came from: Reaume, A.H. “Why My Novel Is Dedicated To My Disabled Friend Maddy.” In Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, edited by Alice Wong, 149–158. New York, NY: Vintage, 2020, 153.
The music played in the beginning: "Island Beat" by Arulo. Downloaded from https://mixkit.co/free-stock-music/
Welcome to the Mad and Crip Theology Podcast, hosted by Miriam Spies and Amy Panton, which comes out of the Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability. We both live and work on lands that have been homes and remain homes to the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Huron Wendat, the Neutral; and the Ojibway/Chippewa peoples and other peoples who have cared for the land.. We are grateful for the opportunity to live and work on this land and are mindful of the need to repair broken covenants. This podcast is an opportunity to model how faith communities can engage in theological and spiritual conversations around madness and cripness. If you need a full transcript you can find our videos on our Youtube channel. We want to say before we begin that topics and conversations we are raising throughout our time together are often hard! They are hard for mad and crip people ourselves and hard for our families and loved ones. So, do what you need to do to take care of yourselves, your bodies, minds, and hearts. And now, here is our episode.
Everybody, we can go around and do introductions. So Miriam has put that in the chat for all of you so you can see what we'd like you to mention for our listeners: so your name, your pronouns, your work or your academic location (wherever you find yourself), the connection to your connection to mental health and disability (whatever that might be for you), and then also the connection to the journal (so how do we how do we know you, how do we know each other). So thanks I think what we'll do is um we might do this by mutual invitation so when you have finished um you can invite the next person so uh I'm going to invite Hyeran to to begin. Thank you so much HyeRan. Okay thank you so much Amy and Miriam, um it's wonderful i'm just so excited about the journal and being invited to this--it's such an honour. My name is HyeRan Kim-Cragg, pronouns she/her/hers. Um I am at Emmanuel. I teach homiletics and but I'm a very intersectional thinker and doing homiletics in a very interdisciplinary way and especially in um light of postcolonial lands um so that's who I am. Anything else I need to say here? What you offered to the journal? That's right. Um so I, one of my jobs at Emmanuel is graduate studies director so I'm so proud and honoured to have Miriam and Amy as our PhD students and so when this journal was uh percolating um in the conversation I was totally pumped as a GD person supporting our PhD students and I mean this is really exemplary and excelling of our students being already into the academic field and so that's what i got into interested in the journal um and uh as I said uh you know I care about my field in homiletics and worship and education but you know when we want to be effective preachers you need to really reflect and know where people are at in terms of their lived experiences and those who live the experience they're often not always happy and joyful right because human life's never just that there's always uh issues with the difficulties and challenges and uh so mental illness and and and health are part of really subject matters of homiletics in my view and so and you know race and gender and class and ability and age and you name it. Those are you know just uh really multifaceted identities that we all navigate to perform and so um that's how I really got interested in this journal. And can you invite?
Um may I invite uh Chelsea. Sure, thank you so much. I apologize I'll change my name--I actually go by Elizabeth. Sorry. Don't be sorry, it's not your fault. Um I I use she/her pronouns and i'm a first-year PhD student at Western University and my research takes up um using critical discourse analysis to look at attendance services policies and how those shape who can and cannot access services using able/disabled constructs. I I'm really fortunate um I came to this journal through a conversation about a year ago that Miriam and Amy came to do for NEADS which is National Educational Association of Disabled Students and I am fortunate enough to be a research consultant with NEADS and i was invited. And so I heard about this work and then reached out to my co-author um Alexa (yay) um to prepare a piece. Um and I think how I come to I guess disability and mental health, I'd like to offer another term. I don't identify with lived experience. I say that i have experiential knowledge of disability because it looks at not only my experience of living with a disability but my experience in scholarship and my experience interacting in the community and in society but it also critically experiential knowledge critically takes up how disability is enacted and socially constructed so it's it's a it's a bit broader so for me. I identify as having experiential knowledge of disability and I'm going to pass it on to Alexa. Thank you so much Elizabeth. It is really good to be with all of you today. Um my name is Alexa Gilmour and I use she/her/hers as my pronouns. I am the minister of Windermere United Church which is in the west end of Toronto, and uh similar to what Hyeran was saying around intersectionality--that's a big part of my focus and passion and how do we break through some of those silos and a church is a place where different identities intersect and there are a variety of lived experiences, that we can learn from be in relationship with, stand in solidarity with one another, be transformed into sort of, uh in terms of theological language, that Kindom of God uh experience as we do learn with each other. And I was invited uh to be part of uh the journal uh through Elizabeth who said, "We've got this story to tell," and uh um and and that was the first I'd heard about the journal and I got very excited about the journal because um I don't think there's anything like it and there's a need, so very very excited for the um the journals to come in the following months and really grateful to be here. Thank you so much and,
we wondered if you could each take a brief moment to talk a bit about your pieces. We assume all the listeners and watchers have read your wonderful work but um this is a brief word and on
on on what you wrote about for for this time so maybe Elizabeth and Alexa can start us off.
So Elizabeth um I know you were the driving force behind this so how about you begin. Okay I'll begin. I just want to acknowledge before I begin that this piece was is based on a program called Neighbours Helping Neighbors which has so many hands that have reached out to be a part of it so um I would be remiss uh if I didn't say that this program is is because of so many in our community. I think um you know like our like our piece says like when Covid started which seems like forever ago, um I know myself I was kind of sitting at home and you know I hadn't started phd school land yet so when work finished at five o'clock I needed something to do. I had a really busy life prior to Covid with activism/advocacy work and I needed something to keep my idle hands busy and so I had kind of heard through um through the church uh through Windermere that this great program was starting, Neighbours helping Neighbours, and I was one of the people that helped to um to get it off the ground along with many others and I think you know what our what our piece touches on is is the importance of community and the importance of collectives of care, but I I think also touches on bigger questions around where our society has um has not stepped up to provide support for people with disabilities, certainly in the pandemic but even pre-pandemic, and I think a lot of that is is really exemplified around supports for home care, financial support. I think there's a lot of of
a lot of feeling certainly for myself and from others in the community that I consider allies and friends that we're disposable, um you know that we uh feel really sort of silenced um by by structures. And I've started to think about, I don't really like the term barriers, like when people say well there's a there's a barrier to people finding education or employment I actually think it's structural violence, like it's bigger systemic issues that are actually working to um indirectly cause uh violence to individuals. So I think about ODSP and how that keeps people in poverty, so to me, those aren't barriers or structural instances of structural violence. So I think I'll leave it there and I really want to acknowledge Alexa and give her a chance to speak as well. Thanks Elizabeth I I don't have a lot to add to what you said there, but what I think I would lift up in that um was the experience of discovering and then writing about it in the piece how on the one hand as you said there were certain individuals who were going to be uh left sort of as as just as disposable as you said as collateral damage; you know the ways in which support had been pulled away from people at a critical time and sort of hands had gone shrug, "That's just what it's going to be in Covid." And then on the other hand, the ways in which mutual aid, um really for it to be done well, requires the entire community to be to take part in and that um and that that mutuality that we saw happening and the ways in which the key members of our community were the ones on the ground who often are marginalized and yet were the keys to the successfully reaching out to one another. Um and so this flip side of of the story uh that we experienced uh was that the leaders we needed were some were often the very people that were being sort of uh discarded at a systemic or structural level. Um those were the leaders we needed most.
Thank you. And HyeRan. So um yeah so this is a sermon that was preached at uh one of the first weeks of our academic year last September at Emmanuel College and Miriam was very kind, after I preached she thought, "Oh this would be good to include in this inaugural journal edition!" So I was totally uh gratified there. Um so you know I was of course you know um I was invited to preach, uh even early summer or even before summer. And uh so I've been pondering upon the the Covid pandemic situation um and our school--our students and staff and faculty uh getting through this pandemic through a lot of challenges in terms of online, and you know many students couldn't even join Toronto because border is closed and so it's a kind of multi-layered impacts of the pandemic, so that was one. Second I was involved with our college's so-called DEAR document about kind of stance on some of the issues including inclusion issues uh accountability issues and so on. Um and that involving drafting that document uh racism was you know such a key uh issue that our school and society in general are not deeply engaging right. And uh so I thought we should talk about this in preaching um and uh and as you know that uh racism and preaching are not really close friends as far as i can tell in terms of the research, in terms of the literature, so preaching is still very white space um and yet, here I am as a racialized carrying racialized body um needing to address the issues so there was already a vulnerability. And then in terms of the how to select the biblical text. As much as I admire and respect the revised common lectionary, um you know anything is perfect so I IDL has a problem in terms of not um explicitly um including the text that are so-called so-called problematic meaning dealing with the deep questions right? Song of Songs is one of such texts that that is thought-provoking. First of all it shows so many erotic expressions of love um and you know doesn't talk about God in any way so it's it's it's intriguing text. Um and uh in and in terms of the race you know this is one of the texts that actually talk about skin color and black as beautiful. I mean how many texts that has that right? So it's a revolutionary text in my view and i was gonna, so my message was on one hand lift up the voices and the presence of people that haven't been fairly representative, and on the other hand those folks are not just passive recipients or you know beneficiaries but they are active kind of agents that uh that challenge the status quo the the you know kind of dismantling the issues of racism and otherwise. And so so that I decided to lift up the voice in the story that apparently is a female voice according to scholarly work, so not only is a black woman in the bible talking but it's a woman in the bible talking, you know that's another big issue so intersectional issues and. And then um finally you know as students right?, as a faculty so doing the theological education, how can we uh kind of deeply honour and and recognize the material living conditions so it's not just about ideas even though we do that in our work, that's a part of our job, but you know feeding food, the daily mundane work of getting up, cleaning, you know those are so sacred and valuable things that we should um fairly you know recognize. So the fact that this woman in the Song of Songs are farm workers right who you know who grow produce food that probably we all benefit so that's where I connected. So who would that be that woman in the bible today? And connecting with the migrant workers and the plight of the migrant workers, especially you know international temporary migrant workers in Canada are horrific and and you know what we are doing to them is absolutely unacceptable and yet I don't think we know, because we don't see them. And so part of the racism issue and you know disability/ability is that you know those are real people but we don't, they are invisible right? The society makes them invisible right so that we don't have to deal with right and so that's that's why this this came about.
Wow! I am sitting here so glad we're having this conversation. So Amy maybe you want to lead us into the first question which connects to all of this. Yeah, sure, thanks Mir. So what we did when Miriam and I were sitting down two days ago, putting our heads together to think about um how we wanted to approach these podcasts we thought well why don't we ask some questions of the group and get a discussion going. Um what we tried to do is pull out some points of similarity between um both of the pieces that you had, both both of the pieces that you have written. So the first question that we want to ask you, it's a little long sorry--it's the academic in us so just bear with me as I read it. So the first question is: You’ve all written about how society and in many ways the church has seen and treated some people as “disposable,” especially during this pandemic. Elizabeth and Alexa spoke about the potential for triage care and how disabled bodies have been threatened by that. HyeRan spoke about the injustice faced by migrant workers for a long time and she highlighted how the pandemic has made vulnerable lives even more vulnerable. Why is it important to name this and what should societies and faith communities be doing in the face of such injustice?
So I'm wondering, um would you be okay if Alexa and Elizabeth start us off and then we'll ask Hyeran to to go. Okay so please Alexa and Elizabeth (we had sent these questions to you in advance so hopefully you got a chance to ponder over the past couple of days).
Yeah um, well for for us in our piece we had used the the metaphor of uh of the Body that Paul uses. Um and right now you know as we are are gathering and talking, in the hospitals across the province and even across the country are being trained in how to triage um the people that come into the hospital with Covid uh based on you know the probability of them surviving in order that they might distribute like medical supplies like ventilators um because we might not we might get to a point where we don't have enough for everyone who's sick. And what our faith teaches us right is that we are one body and that the suffering comes to all of us when we think about disposing one of us and um that, you know, the the recognition that uh that we live in this world where we we we do this: we we triage people um and the intrinsic value of a human life of a beloved child of God--it is it isn't weighed uh in the same way. And yet what we saw uh in our experience of the Neighbours helping Neighbours uh was the deep way in which we are interconnected, the deep need that we have for one another, the ways in which mutual aid tells a different kind of story about value and about how uh we can structure our society. Um and so it was a at a time where these really deeply ethical questions are being asked, our faith uh can offer us another alternative way and in fact our lived experience uh in communities that are intersectional that uh that celebrate uh the gifts of of all of its members. And what I what I loved about um you know Hyeran's text of the Matthew 20 text that that you brought in around the different the day labor is coming at different times and yet each one of them paid right? And it made me think when I was listening when I was reading your text was uh about why those labourers didn't show up right, didn't go out to work. It does they say very clearly that um that they weren't working because nobody had hired them. It didn't say they weren't working because they were you know lazy or they were doing something. They weren't working because someone hadn't hired them and uh i began to think about the ways in which you know certain resumés that come with a a name that isn't anglicized don't even get a phone call for the interview um and the ways in which you know we we uh we create this hierarchy uh and the counter narrative that many places of faith uh you know uh bring to the table. Part of why this journal is so important is it starts to tell a different story--one that's more life-giving for all of us and one that we've been seeing play out both in the worst possible ways during pandemic and in the best possible ways.
Elizabeth, I wonder if you wanted to add to that in terms of our our piece or um. Yeah I think um I think I think what I would add is um you know this idea that um I think it's been interesting to watch how faith communities in some ways have become, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, more inclusive during the pandemic. So um you know, I know we're all zoom fatigued but I think by opening up our virtual doors we're including people that may not be able to get into our physical doors either because you know Sunday service doesn't work for them or our buildings aren't accessible or you know people are hospitalized or looking after loved ones at home. And so I've been thinking a lot about how there are some really beautiful lessons from this pandemic and I think one of them is that um this this door that's been opened up virtually I hope it stays open. Of course when we go back in person um that'll be a really a gift but I hope that in hybrid simultaneously with that gift we'll be able to have this virtual door open. And I think about the ways that um you know it's it's really interesting to watch how um communities have come together, like there there were people when I was involved with Neighbours helping Neighbours who both were giving and receiving help at the same time and sometimes the help that they were receiving was the ability to give help. And so just how we've been able to really build this collective of care throughout COVID as a as a church and as a broader society. Although there's lots going on that isn't okay, there's some really, I think, some real beautiful things unfolding there.
Yeah I I appreciate both of you, Elizabeth and Alexa's input here.
So a couple things: just uh I don't believe in winner takes all in that song.
You know? And even if that's the world, it shouldn't be and therefore we want to change that, um and one way to change that is to pay attention to the groups and the folks who are overlooked who are made individual who who don't uh given credit for that they are doing. Um so I often imagine a big conference or very glorious successful event and you know all the keynote speakers and everybody just gorgeous right and their roles are important. I'm not discounting that rules and often I'm in that so I'm implicated in that. However you know those who bring food, those who cleaned up, who moves to to this room to that room so that we can run the conference you know? Those folks are to me a fabric of society that needed a better treatment and and fairer wage and all that. So um you know as Elizabeth said you know one of the ironic paradoxical pandemic impacts is that those who have been hidden and overlooked now exposed: whether that's race, whether that's a disability, whether that's age, senior homes, or you know, young mother with young children at home you know. Um so how do we change right the world where winner take doesn't take all but share equitably is to name those folks and their roles and their struggles and their needs, not as a token of appreciation or you know charity but as an incredible just practice. Um so that's the reason why I think we need to name um and and so biblically, theologically, academically, you know our work should pay attention to, given an extra weight. Why? Because we haven't been doing it. So there should be a you know you know you know in terms of the symbolic way of saying it conundrum went to one side already so much is imbalanced so you know make it balanced we have to go the other way around a lot more. Um so you know that's one of the things and then um going back to uh the Neighbour helping Neighbour article that you beautifully wrote um really you know--one of the key terms that you're using which is one of my favourite word and I think Miriam and Amy might already know that I actually wrote a book on that term, "interdependence" and. Oh I'd like to read that book. Yes please do and let me know, um but the very notion of the interdependence is not uh you know some kind of ideal goal. I think it's just a necessity of life: I mean what what kind of creatures including the humans do not have that? Like we just can't live alone independently not a single hour? And we depend on you know even non-human thing like desk and this computer right, um and uh you know we are having cup and water and I mean nothing is mine right? We are relying on. And and so you know if that is just basic necessary life and the truth of it then we need to therefore Neighbour helping Neighbour: help each other when there is a need, it just, there's no brainer there right? It just uh has to be the way to go. However, as you know, we are not doing that right. So certain people with power and wealth and whatever that may uh are taking advantage of this so-called systems that are placed for the sake of those few dominant groups. And uh and only way to sustain that is to keep the majorities of the folks at the margin and and uh make them invisible so that we don't have to deal with it right? So to switch that I think you know this kind of uh injustice issues through journal, through you know church work, through preaching, through writing, and you know protests and lobbying and policy makers, and just, you know, every factor. I mean the fabric of society should be um making our world more equitably interdependent. Yeah. I I really like what you're saying there around the continued piece of it and the the you know larger piece of it, because uh one of the worries I have is um we see these articles popping up now around the injustice that you know is being exposed because of Covid that was already there you know? One thing that really troubled me at the beginning of Covid was was these agencies wanted to give me all kinds of money to help people in need and they would say, "Who are you giving it to?" and my answer was, "The same people I was going to give it to last week." Like it wasn't like there was suddenly this group of people that you know that Covid made um vulnerable. They were already made vulnerable by by systemic issues right. Yeah um and so that the I one thing I worry about is as as Covid fatigue sets in right? And I see it in myself: this level of exhaustion. Um I see it in the church community, uh that that that energy we had to right wrongs and support one another right?--that it wanes as we become tired and it wanes as the story leaves the media and it wanes as we hear it over and over again and we become acclimatized. At first it's shocking right, that that uh the numbers of racialized people who are getting Covid and you know the neighbourhoods that are right that's shocking. Yeah. So one of the things that i I, you know, wonder about and wrestle with and I think you've been naming it HyeRan is how do we keep that story then how do we keep telling it? We preach it, we protest it, you know when one of us has run out of energy for it somebody else has got it, and we you know we keep that conversation this this podcast right will live somewhere online and someone will hear it and be fired up again by it. Um is the hope right? Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. I think that's a beautifully captured and and uh you know one of the metaphors I use, and it's not just metaphor, is I think um daily practice um is that I think we have to rehearse the reign of God. Yeah. As if the new world is here and now. And the rehearsal as you know if you're a musician, if you're an artist or playwright, you know uh, actors--they know how important to rehearse. Knowing is one thing right? You have to know how to do it is one thing but to to make it almost perfect you have to keep practicing to the point that you are almost dying to do it right? Um but that sense of rehearsal I think it's a as a Body of Christ I mean your you know the Paul's letter that you're using in your article, it's a beautiful you know symbol but um the Body of Christ has to practice together, like the rehearse for the theatre or the music piece or whatever you are doing. Um and that sense of routine, the sense of the regular, the sense of the building up our muscle memories so that we pass that on even if we die--that this this work continues. Um and finally you mentioned something about hope um. You know often you know even when um the uh the election happened in the U.S. and so on, you know, people just appalled by whatever and racialized communities or people who are marginalized are saying there's nothing new, don't be surprised by it right? And so, you know, for Covid some of us this is shocking, but many of them already know and nothing new right? Right And what that does is that we need to then therefore learn from them? Like clues from those who are already making a difference and having a resilient, uh innovative, adaptive, flexible ways to "get by" right? You know, here is the the beauty of the life itself, right? Life keeps going and and and um yeah so that's why we don't have a luxury of not have hope because we don't have options but be hopeful. And our you know most marginalized most vulnerable groups of communities people are already doing and it's just a matter of us, who are in, you know, relatively privileged position whether it's a gender, whether it's race, and whatever, need to join that movement because they're already doing it. But if they don't take up, you know, and doing together, then some might not make it because it's too hard to do it in small numbers. So yeah I want to pick up on that because I think you bring up a really salient point around um the invisible labour of activism and advocacy. I mean some activism is is visible if you you attend a protest but all the organization and all the planning is invisible, and I think the daily advocacy that a lot of us do in our own private spheres, just to manage our own um support needs and to speak on behalf of and with and alongside our allies and communities, um it's very emotional labour and it's invisible labour. And I feel like emotional labour is not even a good way to capture it. Unfortunately I'm having the Friday afternoon slumps--my coffee cup's empty. But I I feel like there's a word but I want to think about how to capture that invisible, weighty, emotional labour of advocacy that goes beyond unpaid and unrecognized because it is that, but there's so much to managing uh when you're in a marginalized group um, and I can only speak for my own but I can imagine in other groups there's so much to managing um disability in the public sphere of life and in your own private sphere and I just feel like, um you know, I guess where I'm going with all this is i think it actually leads quite nicely into mental health because I was thinking about like how am I impacted by mental health. But I I think the um micro-aggressions and the systemic and structural violence that I talked about earlier--I think all that impacts our mental health, but we don't talk about it because we don't even know what's happening, because we're always in this mode of having to advocate and push forward and be strong. And so sometimes I, that phrase like "together we're stronger", um I get it, but I feel like um someone that takes someone that takes up critical discourse analysis--I think about the discourse implied and I'm like, we are, but I think it's also okay to acknowledge that um it's okay not to be strong all the time. And there's reasons that we're not strong all the time. I hope that makes sense.
Totally, totally makes sense. I think Elizabeth that leads into another question in me and I had is around how to cope with, for a lack of a better word, that emotional energy this work takes, both in me and I have had struggles in the church and in academia and we have questioned the reasons we see and the purpose of our work--a common theme for PhD students I know but
um sometimes it's it's different for us because we have been hurt by so many things in the church and in theology.
We are assuming that you've encountered similar questions, and possibly very regularly,
and so we ask, "Why do you stay?" And I think it has something to do with the rehearsal and the hope and the realm of God but I will let you, HyeRan, take it from there.
There are so much emotional taxing going on and that leads to as Elizabeth said, you know, micro-aggression and internalization and you know all that. So um I think we should just name that. Um that is just part of life um and uh but uh any comfort would be that you are not alone, um that uh I'm not alone in it. Um so few things I guess we'll we'll say here um the uh.
Um there are
unique gifts to offer uh in terms of PhD work. Um first of all, as you know not everybody can do or will do um. So given that, uh you know if if the society is like a fabric (I'm using that metaphor a lot today) and that the fabric has several threads and and we are all weaving that threats together for the sake of well-being and wholeness and PhD work is one of those threads that absolutely essential for the sake of the society's well-being. Um so that's a call that not everybody wants to or will. Um and so i always think why am I started this journey,
and what motivated us in that journey, and and that motivation, that desire, that intention, that love,
hopefully will carry you, so that's one. The other one is um that I meet people like you.
Uh if I weren't in that field I would never met you right? And and again we could meet in in one of the church gatherings or something, but it's not the same right? So that that the relationship is being formed and cultivated in a very particular moment in a particular purpose. Ut's not same as meeting me Miriam, meeting in World Council of Churches, it's not same. It would be wonderful, but it's not same. So I I think I cherish that that relationship being formed with that kind of shared purpose and vision. Um and so you need to hang out with people that you love, people that you trust, people that you just feel good being together, you know? I I always say I I really don't like the term sacrifice, um even if the sacrificer meaning a sacred so there is that, you know another good one. But in terms of the kind of feminist term of the sacrificing, because we are women sacrificing, we are weak, whatever, I mean. And I advocate instead self-care um because in other but the self-care itself is not me alone, it's not the selfish in itself, it's a self as in relationship. So in order to be, you know, um healthy enough for doing the work that we need to, we need each other and that each other sometimes has to be very selfish. Like you know I don't want to hang out with you who driving me nuts because you're so racist. I don't want to hang out with people who are so misogynist and you know totally clueless about, you know, all this intersectional racism and and uh oppressions, I don't wanna, or queerness you know that I don't wanna educate you about LGBT issues, I don't need that right, or mental illness or whatever. We don't need that. Sometimes we just want to be um without needing to explaining why I'm here and just being with people who just know me and just accept me and just be right? We need to do that. We need to cultivate that intentionally and again regularly. And in Covid I think it's even more urgent because we are isolated, we are detached, we are separate from our you know kin. And so so that's that, so just find your best friends or whatever you call that group uh and just fully enjoy and and and cherish that. I think that that is I think life blood; without it I don't think I can even begin um to do what I have to do um that's that. And third I will say um,
tapping into creation. Um. We need to we need to reach out to our kin that are not humans. Sometimes I think humans are hard to cope with and and uh, but uh you know, the trees to the animals that you have and and uh just being. You know the even the the sound of the water, you know the warmth of the sunshine, or the blessing of the rain, I mean you know, those are, I think deeply, profoundly theologically, spiritual and and uh we don't, I think, appreciate enough of those gifts that are given to us and I think we need to uh deeply engage in them, uh in a very contemplative, but also personally approachable. So you talk to the, I mean, the indigenous folks did doing way better than us i think. Um, you know really talking to them right? And then you tell them and they somehow respond and so just checking in that uh, so when the situation is so dire, still we are not alone and that God is with us in that sense anyhow so it's not very. Um well I love to hear others.
I guess um I'm think about like why we stay, you know, and why we take up the work we do. Um I think, you know, why I stay--um there's certainly been been hard, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that, but I also think that there's been a lot of um community and joy that I've that I've experienced being in that community. I think, uh you know, in terms of faith, I think that um it's it's kind of it's it's a little bit like a journey right? And so I think it's, like you said, it's finding your people to be with. But I also, you know, I think for me, I stay because there is um this opportunity to share gifts, whether that's you know doing things like this, or singing in the choir, or volunteering, so there's an opportunity to share your gifts, and to be a part of that that fabric or that that interdependent community that you were talking about. And I think in terms of you know, "Why a PhD?" I ask myself that every day but, I think um I think it's because there's a story, I feel and I feel more and more this, every day, there's a story I need to tell, and there's people that that I want to hear. I hope and I think especially there's a story I want to tell outside of the disability space. I get asked probably once a week, "Why didn't you go to critical disability studies at York?" And it's it's a fantastic program, I'm not at all disputing um the great work that the folks at York do, but I think there's a story that I I want to tell in a space where it hasn't been told. And I think there's a place to open up conversations where they haven't been opened up before, and to name things and claim things that haven't been said or that cause discomfort so we silence them and we mute them. So you know things around um care care work um traditionally cause people uh to feel uncomfortable, and and you know, or or it belongs solely in health care, but it doesn't because it affects every single one of us. And so I think why I stay is to uh to try and weave that fabric a little tighter, uh and tell that story a little louder, and make that voice a little broader.
Yeah um. That question takes me, and the comments, um to so many places because uh I think, thinking about um the pain in the church right? The body that is is broken and and hurts one another. And on the one hand, uh there's this internalized sexism that lives in me that, you know, is really really hard to break. I I have to consciously program, you know recalibrate, every time I walk into a room, to not assume that the white man, standing upright and able-bodied at the front of the room, is the one in charge. I have to consciously do that and it and it's madden it's so maddening right that that that exists. Um and or you know the times that people have said to me, "Uh well the front row, the front pew, in your church is all going to be young men," as if my only value is what I look like instead of what I preach right? So there's there is pain there, and yet on the other hand in almost every other category, I'm a highly privileged individual right? And so when uh uh my voice is often invited into spaces, and is considered really acceptable, and uh and and you know listened to. Uh and so uh, there's a lot of ways in which I get a lot out of this church of ours, that that you know, says, "You go Alexa. You're exactly what we're looking for except you're missing a penis, but you know, like you know, we'll let that go once in a while." And what keeps me here uh doing that work um is this deep belief in that word that you mentioned earlier around interdependence--that my life is dependent upon and interdependent with um the Body of of Christ and and that um the that we all deserve better. The little girl inside me that got told, you know, "She's nothing," and my, you know, sister who is queer, my best friend who is Muslim, my daughter who is brown, right--we deserve better and the and that um that certainty that, right, holds me in this space. Uh so then there's a calling aspect to the work as well--um called to do this work, called to decolonize my own mind, called to deconstruct the things that I have learned about myself and about other people and and the variety of bodies that come into uh my life. Um and so while it's it's painful for me for a number of reasons, you know, one, the the ways in which I've been hurt, but two, the ways in which I have hurt, because of the ways I have been uh raised, right, and the shame that that exists there, uh is is painful work to to wrestle with. But the deep deep deep knowing that there is that that's where life is, right, that the that in interdependent work, in in mutuality um that, there's the, and you catch these glimpses of it every once in a while right, and you know we work to rehearse it, as as you were saying HyeRan, and we um--but there's enough there's enough of those glimpses, uh and transformative moments, right? I've been with my church for 10 years, at Windermere United, and there's been enough of those transformative moments that uh make moments like this one, which you know is a really difficult one--I'm actually struggling to be so disconnected from my community, the online piece of it, um. And and yet and yet, you know, these these moments show up and and we keep going uh because we know, right, we know that this is where abundant life is found so what else can we do?
Wow I I I think we could clearly talk for hours and enjoy enjoy each other for hours, but I'm I'm so grateful for all of your work and your commitment and your love for for God's world that you share with with me and with everyone else you meet. Um I wanted to just just give you a quote that's been sitting in my heart today, and it talks about disability but I think it cuts across all forms of marginalizations and so I will invite Amy to read this quote by A.H. Reaume:
"This is disabled praxis. It’s about interdependence. I couldn’t do it alone, but I did it with her help. She needed flexible work, and I gave that to her. It’s part of the ethics of care and support that so many disabled people show to one another. It’s a kind of love that I hadn’t known existed before my disability. It’s fierce and patient and tender and rare. It’s what disabled people give to one another because we wish the able-bodied world had given to us. It’s tinged with grief and pain—and also with defiance. It’s gentle and it’s incredibly kind.” And I heard in this conversation, an echo that feels patient, and tender, and where love I heard today, and for me and many Christians, that's the love of God at work, so thank you so much. Thank you. Amy, would you be comfortable emailing that quote out I'd love to read it again and just think about it a little bit more, um. Yeah. is that something you'd be comfortable, thank you so much, I just, it's so beautiful, but I really want to sit with it a little bit more. Definitely. We will do that.
Yes, love to receive that as well. Me too.