It was a rocky and complicated relationship I had with the church I was attending in Pasadena, California I had been attending. By rocky I mean horrible and by complicated I mean extremely painful. Even though by then I knew that it was the Body of Christ, the Church, that was the love of my life, I was seriously considering a separation. I don’t know how these ecclesial spats get rolling but when they do it can quickly become a snowball from hell. I thank God Kevin moved to town or my faith may well have gone a different direction.
I moved back to California after staying in in L”ache in Calgary for a few months. I thought I might stay there, but I returned and when I did I soon found a small group of people hoping to start a L’Arche community that would become L’Arche Wavecrest. It was there I met Kevin, who incidentally was moving from a home in Orange county to a home in Pasadena right about the time I was ready to drop out of Church.
One Sunday at the Church I was attending with Kevin and I knew it was a done deal. I kept thinking “He is disabled, not deaf, or 4years old, or dangerous.” Zheesh. I knew I wanted to pull something together for Kevin by the next week if I could. Kevin and I, like a lot of my friends, kinda *found* each other. We hit it off quickly and knew we should be friends. I wanted to make something work for him.
I was working on a Ph.D. at USC and taking a class at Fuller Seminary where it seemed all of my friends colleagues, including my professor Jim McClendon, thought I should “check out the Mennonite Church in Town.” We did. Kevin, being quite extroverted and precocious even, had no interest in my tentative relationship with the Church. He dragged me, literally by my hand, from person to person introducing me as his friend. Even so I think it was a good 3 or 4 months before people really recognized me separate from Kevin, and there could not a be a greater success of the Church. I, the theologian/teacher/60%-extrovert was done trying. Kevin, the gregarious disabled guy, became a leader in the Church before I had even settled in. No one spoke loudly or slowly at him, no one looked to me to explain or interpret him unless it was absolutely necessary and it was the same way they would turn to him to make sense of me. No one saw Kevin as anything but a visitor who became a member. They eventually had space for me too, coincidentally, when I was ready. I knew they didn’t see people first for their disabilities. I knew I had a shot there. Kevin helped me catch a bad case of “the mennonite.”