Hidden Handicaps


I recently made the decision to sign up with www.seatosea.org to help support their efforts to fund projects to help break the cycle of poverty. Anyone who has considered poverty recognizes it as a complex economic, social and spiritual issue. As such there is no simple answer.

One aspect of poverty is that there are often underlying handicaps. Often these handicaps are not immediately apparent. Recognizing the role that handicaps play in understanding poverty will hopefully create greater empathy for those who receive help.

In choosing to join the Sea to Sea bike tour for two weeks I have committed to an additional challenge of completing 10% or more of the tour with a ‘one wheel’ handicap. The unicycle handicap is meant to symbolize the handicaps that contribute to the chronic nature of poverty.

My choice to do 10% or more by unicycle grew out of my interest in unicycle riding and unicycle antics over the past 8 years. Unicycling is one way of staying fit, but more satisfying it the thrill it creates for both young and old when riding in public. It is interestingly a way to get respect from the skateboarding crowd in town. It’s heartwarming how a unicycle can open doors.

However, a unicycle also created challenges. One day while unicycling at Ontario Place, one of the security personnel stopped me and told me that riding a unicycle was not permitted. Strange enough, I had not seen any ‘no unicycle’ signs. With ‘no bicycle’ and ‘no skateboarding’ signs in sight, the message was rather clearly implied. I might have argued the case on a technicality but I had 6 of my grade 7&8 students in tow. I decided it was in my interest as a school principal to be a good role model in dealing with authority figures.

Living In God’s Pocket – A Lesson from Del Barber

Last fall I had the privilege of listening to Del Barber (www.delbarber.com) a singer/songwriter from Manitoba. He was an invited artist to the Shelter Valley Folk Festival. (www.sheltervalley.com)  Del is a Juno nominee who shares a worldview of critique and hope that makes one take note and listen. His story telling and introductions between songs were punctuated with a phrase that captured the sense of being in a place where things are good. It being Labour Day, with the weather being warm, enjoying good company, listening to uplifting music, having good food and drink, he commented … “This is what it must feel like to be living in God’s pocket.” It’s a phrase that he learned from his father.

Many times since that weekend I have found myself in situations and thought, “This is what it must be like to be living in God’s pocket.”

I was so touched by this phrase that I had Del Barber autograph a CD with this phrase and had the foresight to get his verbal permission to use it – if that counts for anything.