Somerville High School Temporary Ramp, March, 2019
There’s a wonderful cartoon depicting an elementary school entrance after a big snowstorm. A group of winter-garbed children, a couple in wheelchairs, wait at the foot of the school’s ramp as the custodian shovels the school’s stairs, right next to the ramp. “If you shoveled the ramp first we could all get inside,” a child says.
A couple of weeks ago I remembered that cartoon while attending a memorial for Chuck Woodbury (1920-2018), beloved member of my Quaker meeting. Attentive father and grandfather, noted psychologist, ardent violinist, Chuck was also so hard of hearing that in his last years attending our meeting for worship, needed someone to sit beside him to write down the vocal ministry shared that morning. So it was fitting that at his memorial, people who wished to share a story about Chuck would stand and wait until the hand mic would be delivered. (This mic usage a first, I think.)
Two things happened because of this. Like all those children able to get inside their school, everyone could hear. Like those folks my age who, for now, may be pre-hearing aid—but not for long. Or, as so often happens, when a speaker dropped their voice at the end of a sentence—we all do that—anyone could catch those last three or four words. And because the woman tasked with delivering the mic walks slowly, we all had ample opportunity to reflect on the previous message and on what Chuck’s full, graced life meant for us.
How would this world be if “What will work for everyone?” were our guiding principle?And isn’t asking this question without ceasing another way to be a peacemaker?