In Building with Discarded Stones, Timothy Stephen Buckley draws on his experience working in the L’Arche and the Faith and Light communities to shed positive light on individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
After leaving a Milwaukee seminary, having realized the priesthood was not his vocation, Buckley volunteered at a camp for children and adolescents with cognitive and developmental issues. Beneath the screams, flapping arms and seizures he encountered, he soon realized these individuals had unique characters and personalities. He understood that their essence was to experience life from the heart and that their desires paralleled those of the world at large: care, attention, respect and acceptance and to love and be loved.
Buckley ultimately gravitated to the two organizations mentioned, established to help individuals often isolated outside the mainstream. In his book, he showcases these communities, which provide sanctuary for those with such challenges. Through his observations, readers glimpse people with disabilities and those who assist them in sharing life and friendship and in building community as responsible adults.
Buckley weaves profound, gentle portraits of core community members, including silent Linda, who communicates only through touch and harsh sounds; Bobbie, who tests his caretakers with aggressive moves; and Calvin, a young black man who helps an elderly white Alabama woman become more racially accepting. The narrative not only details challenges but also provides a heartfelt commentary with valuable life lessons that “people with disabilities serve as mirrors for us all.”
There are some missing words in the text. Additionally, the stone photos that appear at the opening of each chapter lack artful dynamic representation of the subject matter. But these are minor issues.
Buckley clearly views the people at the heart of these communities as “agents in the project of humanization.” For readers looking for better understanding of individuals with developmental and physical differences, this honest, sensitive, well-written volume of engaging stories illuminates their willingness to embrace the world, despite an often-judgmental society.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.