We went to Sadie's First Communion this weekend and, it was there in the house of God, that I realized, again, how difficult it is to live one's beliefs. Particularly one's deeply held beliefs about what it is to be disabled and what it is to have a right to space.
I'd been to this church before, for Ruby's First Communion, and their attempt at accessibility, which looked wonderful, didn't really work. they have cut out a space between pews so you can roll up and be right within the congregation. That's awesome. But then, they stand a lot, so I was suddenly sitting, entirely alone, in a sea of bums and crotches. I saw nothing.
Joe and I talked on the way up and I said that I'd sit behind the last pew, he'd sit in the pew in front of me. I'd be able to see down the aisle and, this time, I'd see the ceremony up front. Sadie was so excited and nervous. She'd been told she'd be the first called up and that thrilled and frightened her. I was in place I could see everything.
And then. A fellow arrives late and comes and sits in a pew four in front of ours. When everyone stands, he steps out into the aisle, directly in front of me, and rocks, sideways. Then when it's time to sit, he steps back into the row and sits down on the pew. I couldn't see past him.
I'll admit it, I was annoyed.
It was getting closer in the service to where Sadie would be going up, I really wanted to see. I edged my wheelchair a bit further over so I'd be able to lean and see. At this point it never crossed my mind to think of the fellow blocking my view as anything more or less than someone blocking my view. I never thought of him as someone who needed that space and who had a right to that space and who had a right to have his right respected.
I was thinking in ways about him that really upset me when done to me. I know better than that. I should have learned from that. It shouldn't have taken 15 minutes of being bothered by him before I understood that he and I both had a legitimate need for space and that I had to accommodate him in the same way that people accommodate me.
Sadie's name was called.
He was out rocking and I had moved so I could see.
There wasn't really a problem
Except that I realized that I had to make space in my head for other people to have the space they need independent of the space that I need. Okay.
There was a sermon, a good one ... but the lesson rocked.