Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two Special Inscriptions

Some of the signatures on my coat.
I had a great time, speaking the last two days in Omaha, Nebraska. Three speeches in less than 24 hours--whew!

One of the highlights involved my red coat. Have I told you about this very special coat, which people are welcome to sign if they believe they are "part of everybody"? After two winters of my wearing it, the coat is totally covered in signatures, in at least six different languages (I've lost count).

Yesterday my new friends Barb and Carol, who had just heard me speak at First Lutheran Church in the heart of Omaha, added their names to the coat, in yet another language (of sorts): the language of the blind.

I had used my bright red coat, so full of signatures, as a central theme in my presentation. When I was done speaking, and the lengthy Q&A was over, Barb and Carol approached me, asking to "see my coat." As they were obviously blind, I laid the big, quilted goose-down coat in their hands. They explored it all over, using their sense of touch. Then they asked to sign.

Adding their signatures became a group project. Those of us who were sighted located "perfect places" on the crowded coat for Barb and Carol each to write their names, helped orient them to the space on which they could write, placed the black marker carefully in their hands, and set its tip down on the coat, holding the fabric taut to make the task easier. Then Barb and Carol labored over their names.

They acknowledged while writing that their signatures would probably just look like "scribbles," but the five or six of us who were huddled around them, encouraging them, experienced with these two women a profound moment of sharing and community. We were being "part of everybody, part of everything," together.

I will always remember Barb and Carol of Omaha, Nebraska, through their "scribbled" signatures, with gratitude.

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