My dad and mom ran a camp when I was little, a place called Rocky Mountain Village, and it was (is) a camp for people with developmental disabilities, children and adults, with all kinds of special needs--from Down syndrome to autism, to cerebral palsy, to traumatic brain injury (TBI), to epilepsy to those folks without any particular diagnosis at all. From the age of eight until 22, I spent summers and weekends in one of the happiest places on Earth. I met all kinds of amazing people who taught me lessons about courage and determination and joy and friendship and struggle to overcome hard things. It's also the place I learned that the world could be cruel and harsh as some of my childhood friends struggled with terminal muscular dystrophy and others who had been born with Hemophilia, developed AIDS and died as a result of unsafe blood transfusions in the 1980s. Yet even for those kids, for those friends of mine, our intention was to pursue the best week of summer camp possible, to embrace the moment and to have fun and to explore the possibilities of imagination.
When I graduated from college, I worked in the field of developmental disabilities. I coordinated home care programs, developed a family resource center at a inclusive preschool, and was a case coordinator and developmental evaluator for the local Early Intervention program, where I worked with babies 0-3 with developmental concerns. My heart is so for people with developmental needs and I come alive as I help families envision the best possible lives for their special kids.
So, imagine my thrill when upon arrival at retreat, I was told that the kitchen staff was a group of developmentally disabled teens and young adults who are a part of a Young Life ministry called Capernaum. I offhandedly said to one of my friends how fun it would be to teach this group a Holy Yoga class. The next day she came up to me and said, "I hope you're ok with this, but you're teaching to the Capernaum group on the sports field at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon." And so, I got to watch God weave so many threads of my life story into a beautiful tapestry. I was so blessed to take my heart for people with developmental needs and fuse it with my passion for teaching yoga. I got to see a glimpse of the King's table as I led a circle of people, special needs and typically developing, through a most holy and prayerful practice. One of my Holy Yoga mentors (JoAnn of Jesus Freak Media) captured this beauty in a moving video. I hope you enjoy.
And a couple pics of the gang...
All my love to Amanda, Candi, Tim, Eric, Jennifer, Olivia, Bonnie, Joey, and Ellie. I'm forever changed for knowing you. Special thanks, too, to David and Alice, the Capernaum group leaders. May God bless you.