Art Patterson is a man with a mission, like every man in MKP. But this June, part of his mission will come to life on the hallowed grounds of Claymont Court. You see, Art’s dream has been for men with physical challenges to go thru the NWTA weekend together. His want is for men who are perceived by the community at large as disabled to be seen for their gifts and their Gold!
Art is the senior member (18 years with MKP) of the New James River Warriors, the IGroup that meets in Richmond, Virginia on a weekly basis. He’s seen many changes thru the years, including multiple IGroups and men who are dear Brothers to him for life. He also has his share of physical challenges, as he has cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect balance, movement, and muscle tone. Think back to your weekend. Imagine adding a physical challenge like that to the emotional and spiritual energy you expended over those 48 hours. How was Art impacted? “I spoke to a friend after my weekend, and he said ‘Art, you sound different’. And I felt different. If you had told me what the next 18 years of my life would have been like, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have been lost without MKP.”
Art also spoke about the gifts that he has been blessed with over the years, particularly the insight into himself and his condition. “Being a Warrior Brother gave me SPACE. I had the space to be inter-dependent. I was able to admit to myself that I didn’t want to have cerebral palsy. Before I thought that it was selfish to think that. Being a part of this community also gave me an opportunity to bring out my thoughtful, reflective side, something that I had never had a chance to use before.”
What can other challenged men expect to find, by going thru a NWTA weekend? “A man will find that he will be treated as an equal among other men, something many challenged men don’t experience anywhere in their life. They are viewed for their gifts and not their physical challenges. There is a place of safety here, a place where the anger that a disabled man feels isn’t mistaken for bitterness or danger. This is a place where his anger, like the rest of him, is welcome and it becomes a place for healing. With his fellow brothers, he will find a space of safety, and a place where he is valued, while at the same time, he can be nurtured by other men who know or feel his struggle.”
Art’s goal for this first weekend: “To create a container where a challenged man is able to find himself, and be proud of who he is. I want to see as many physically challenged men as can to come out and experience the support and love of a community that’s ready to serve them.” And his longer term goal? “Physically challenged men can become the largest group within MKP over time. It is providing me a chance to step into my mission and my calling. It is scary, yes, but I’m ready!”
Ask yourself a question. Are YOU ready to support this calling and work within MKP? What can we do to help these men and others like them to challenge the community’s ideas around disability? What can we learn for ourselves?
Men are waiting. Be there on June 1st-4th, 2017, either as a staff man, MOS, or at the Brother Dance, and be a part of history. Challenged Warriors is a reality!
–by Tim Lowery