Saturday, August 9, 2008

Stand Tall

Neil MacDonald (see Neil's poem, Voices of War, in 'A Place for Poets')


My husband's voice rang out in the forest, and everyone scattered to the four winds. The giant tree creaked and groaned in protest. The tree was dead, but perversely, I wanted to step forward and take the weight of it in my arms. Catch it before it could hit the ground and disappear forever. It was a fine old tree, and I didn't want to say goodbye to it.

I closed my eyes and turned away, tensed for a resounding crash to split the air around us. Instead, silence filled the space where we waited.

A crowd of us gathered around the tree. The top half wasn't lying on the ground. It had opted, instead, to take its place alongside its original home. It was as if someone had snapped the tree in half, and like me, couldn't bear to part them.

Like an old married couple, the two halves of the tree stand almost knitted together. One rooted in its surroundings; the other one a symbol of perseverance and steadfastness.

Against all odds - including storms that have swept away larger and mightier trees - this tree simply would not acknowledge defeat.

Now that the long-awaited Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are underway, I'm reminded of what it takes to stand tall in the face of storms. To know who you are, stand up for your beliefs, and persevere even when the odds are decidedly against you.

As I read about four Special Olympics athletes from East Asia who were selected as Olympic torchbearers, the true story about a Special Olympics athlete's road to gold came to mind.

In "Spirit, Courage & Resolve, A Special Olympics Athlete's Road To Gold", Tom Lambke wrote about his son's journey from his birth in 1981 - the moment he "knew that our beautiful boy had Down syndrome and that our lives were about to change forever" - to the podium at the 2003 International Special Olympics in Dublin, Ireland.

Throughout Bryan's life, friends and family have seen only ability in his disability. Standing together, they look only to the future, accept Bryan for who he is, and "work with him lovingly."

I visit my twin trees, from time to time. Just like Bryan Lambke, his peers, and all the people who stand solidly beside them, they are symbols of standing tall in the face of life's challenges, and persevering even when storms threaten to take them down.

When the greater community stands shoulder-to-shoulder, with one unified voice, a seismic shift in the collective consciousness will occur, changing forever how people view those who've been labeled 'different'.

For information on Down syndrome, consider reading Bryan and Tom Lambke's "I Just Am: A Story of Down Syndrome Awareness and Tolerance."


Greg in Michigan said...

What an amazing story Maureen Lee. Your writing has chilled me from head to toes. You are applauded for your efforts to bring forward the gifts of these exceptional individuals. I tip my hat to you and to God bless!

Emma said...

You have delivered an incredibly powerful message. I am a senior, 82 years young and throughout my life, I have seen the many challenges these special individuals face. I was a special education teacher for a number of years and have a cousin with Down Syndrome. It truly touches my heart to see the strides we are making to enlighten society. Afterall, it is 2008 and their time has come. May God shine a bright light around you and your Ideal-Way team for doing this incredibly wonderful work. I must say, I really enjoy seeing all the photos of these wonderful people who have made a difference in my life.
Sincerest regards, Emma

Gordo said...

I, like Greg, find the wonderful alliteration in your story telling conjures up powerful visuals that gives me chills also.

Your writing prowess is a gift from God that you are using well to help overcome challenges these special individuals face...many over which they had/have no control.

Kudos to you and for working to change mainstream attitudes that those challenged are, somehow, 'less than'.

I prefer the Roman philosopher, Plotinus' take on this subject:

"As the actors of our stages get their masks and their costumes,
robes of state or rags, so a soul is allotted its fortunes ...."

Keep up your good work and, God bless!

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, all, for not only taking time to read our blog, but also for your wonderful words of encouragement.

Emma, you are an inspiration to us all. And you're absolutely right: it is 2008, and their time has come!

Gordo, thanks, once again, for your feedback - I always love receiving your quotes; keep them coming, please!

Yvonne said...

The photos are a wonderful addition to this outstanding blog and really personalize the stories.

Emma said it well that 'their' time has come, and "May God shine a bright light around you and your Ideal-Way team for doing this incredibly wonderful work."

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks, Yvonne, I'm glad you like the photos - Ideal-Way is always on the move, so I'll be posting many more photos of our team in action!

And thank you for your prayer - our team is thankful for all the support & prayers on our behalf.

Voucher Codes said...

Its really good to read about those two halves of the tree,its very romantic thought.

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