Lori cannot speak. She was born with cerebral palsy, a degenerative disease, and in her forties, she’s confined to a wheelchair and cannot control most of her body’s movements. She cannot speak and any communication is hard, though she does laugh and cry.
Her pain that cannot be spoken reminds me of Harry Potter’s Voldemort, “he whose name must not be spoken.” As I remember, Harry does speak his name, and in the speaking takes some of his enemy’s power.
I think of the way that language allows me to discover my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, and to share them with others. In the words, in the speaking, I find power.
For me, this blog and the books I’m writing have helped me to find words for the hope that I experience, a hope that my life will have meaning that goes beyond these darn tumors.
I experience similar hope in our church’s sister community in Guarjila, El Salvador. This community, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this week, returned to El Salvador’s flattened meadows from years in Honduran refugee camps. Before going into the camps, they—the country’s poor—fled torture and murder in their country’s civil war.
When we visit them and when they visit us, they tell us stories of their tragic experiences, and perhaps in the speaking and in the sharing, they find some peace, some power over their past. In the return, they seek to create a community that honors the lives of each person, even the most powerless.