Wade in the WaterAngela Denise Davis, M.Div., M.S., CRC
“My vocational waters run in two rivers, rehabilitation counseling and ministry.” Those words fell quickly from my lips during a meeting at the U.S. Department of Labor last week. I knew as I uttered them that I had said something special, something that I should always remember.
In reflecting upon that moment, I think of the 20th century poet, Elizabeth Bishop, who wrote a beautiful poem about the geographical merging of two great rivers, the Tapajos and the Amazon. The poem is entitled Santarém. Although I first encountered the poem several years ago, I still remember the great emotion held by the speaker of the poem concerning the beauty of that “watery, dazzling dialectic.” I look upon the merging of my vocational rivers and am no less ecstatic than the poem’s speaker.
I feel as if I am pulling out from a harbor at the mouth of this joining at the place where the currents crash into each other. It is a place of great energy that demands a captain’s respect and attention.
Last week, I learned that I passed the national certifying exam for rehabilitation counselors. I am officially a CRC! As a newly certified rehabilitation counselor, I am excited about creating opportunities for persons with disabilities to soulfully engage the world of work. I want to give VR consumers better service that I received coming through the system. I have never forgotten what my first VR counselor said to me. She lamented that it was so sad that “most blind people ended up washing dishes.” I had just resigned from my position at Vanderbilt Divinity School as the admissions director, and was unsure of what my future held. I will never forget her words.
As an ordained minister, I am interested in helping people think about how one’s theology informs the way he or she perceives disability. This path is leaning me towards doctoral work in the area of theology and ethics. I know that my work with IDAC (Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition) with Ginny Thornburgh is opening new ground for me to explore how some congregations are putting into practice an ethic of liberation and compassion.
I wade into my vocational waters with a great deal of respect and attention. I have never treaded this water before, but I feel that a bright horizon is in view.