Canadian Thanksgiving has been over for six weeks, but a reflection on Thanksgiving, timely for the day on United States Thanksgiving comes from Matthew Stevens. He sends a greeting and a memory, and below these words please find his invitation to all of us to share our own voices with those who need a voice. This is an expression we often use as a metaphor … Matthew offers it an a very real opportunity to give.
An Amazing Thanksgiving?
So, I’m sitting here looking at my new internet modem, that the obviously over-scheduled technician from the telephone company installed for me yesterday. From what the nice woman at the telephone company told me when I phoned to request service call, this new modem will solve all of my connectivity problems and amaze me with its speed. So far I truly have been amazed alright – amazed by the number of household appliances I’ve discovered since yesterday that needed to be reprogrammed for the new modem.
In appearance it’s quite the impressive little device, my new Sagemcom Home Hub, Fast Model 5250. It has a series of little blue lights that twinkle at me, and even though I haven’t the foggiest notion what they’re supposed to be telling me, I feel sort of “cutting-edge” just looking at them. I did attempt to gain some information about this new addition, but after my search successively opening at least three different internet pages I figured I’d better wait until I was in a more tech-savvy mood. (In other words, until one of my children visits home) But it certainly does look “amazing”.
Although I haven’t actually measured this device, I’d say it’s roughly one foot square, with a flat surface very similar to our television. Initially I was sure that this was some sort of screen, and that I’d be presented with an array of “hidef” programming. I imagined, for example, that I’d now be able to watch Netflix while I answering emails, even though my present definition of “multi-tasking” doesn’t extend much beyond successfully drinking a cup of coffee while typing. My abortive attempt to learn about this device from the internet, did teach me that the shinny-black finish – is just a shinny-black finish – and not a screen! Perhaps not so “amazing” after all.
However it occurs to me that this same surface is actually only slightly larger than the first television my family owned in the early 1950’s. It sat precariously balanced on what had formerly been my Mother’s plant stand, manufactured by the DuMont Television Company. It was the Chatham model, and our family really wasn’t in an income bracket to afford such a luxury. But, my Father had done some work for a fellow who subsequently couldn’t pay his bill, and gave Dad the television as compensation for his car repairs. You couldn’t sit more than a few feet away from the TV if you hoped to clearly see anything, and it developed a “snowy” appearance whenever someone walked across the room, but we thought it was pretty “amazing”.
My Father has been dead many years now, but shortly before he died he observed that he’d been born at an “amazing” time. Given that my Father’s life had been anything but easy, and that he’d worked hard for everything he’d ever received, I wondered to what he might be referring. He went on to say: “When I was born a good horse was the definition of speed, and a steam train was almost beyond belief. In my life I’ve witnessed people flying around the world, and now a man has actually walked on the moon. What an amazing life I’ve led!”
Perhaps Thanksgiving is the perfect time to step away from all the things we generally take for granted, and recognize that regardless of our age, we too have been born and live at an absolutely “amazing” time. I’m not referring only to the technological advances that seem to occur on virtually a moment-by-moment basis, but to the opportunities with which Creator has gifted each of us. Not since the first century have Christians been granted such an open vista to look past the self-perpetuating religious errors of the past, and embrace the challenges of empowering spirituality.
Part of the creed for my church says: “We believe in God: who has created and is creating”. If we truly believe that Creator is continuously in the process of creating, then surely it follows that since we “amazing” human beings are an integral part of Creation, we will also continue to evolve. What spiritually fed and sustained our foremothers and forefathers no longer grants direction to our sacred journey, any better than a “good horse or steam train” will satisfy our physical journeys. We needn’t be inhibited in seeking Creator’s path by doctrinal or denominational differences, and surely that is cause enough for my American cousins to celebrate a truly amazing Thanksgiving. Miigwech & zhawendaagozi – thank you and many blessings to you all.
Matthew sends with his words of thanks information about this way of offering to others:
I wanted also to tell you about a programme that I’ve just learned about, and that you might possibly wish to share with your various regular readers around the world. It’s called VOCALid and the following link is to a TED talk that provides a lot of background information about the founder, Dr. Rupal Patel: http://on.ted.com/voices
Their website http://www.vocalid.co/ contains the full story , but basically they’re banking speech from donors and using it to construct individual prosthetic voices for those who were born without or have lost the ability to speak.
To become a speech donor and give the gift of voice, all you need is an Internet connection, a microphone, and a quiet room, and be willing to contribute a total of roughly three hours of the sound of your voice repeating a series of pre-determined phrases. You don’t have to do all the recording at once, and you can spread all of the readings it over a series of 15 to 30 minute sessions.
Our youngest child was born without a right arm from the elbow down, and so through him I’ve learned how critically important individualized prosthetics are to developing a well-rounded and confident individual. I can only imagine what the gift of a voice would mean in the same sort of personal development for those who cannot speak. After all, who better than a whole lot of pastors and priests to donate the sound of our own voices – something we already love to do.