James Encinas’s “Rider for Change” blog post of May 15, 2014 “Angels Among Us” is a touching piece about the angels that come and go in our lives, often when we least expect it but need it most. I was reminded of that well-known African greeting “I see you” … I believe that angels see beyond the stereotypes and assumptions to the common humanity in another person, even if that person, due to circumstances is not able to be his or her best self. Each of the “angels” James described, four different people he’s met along his biking journey, shares that common angel characteristic: one who connects even with strangers because they know that “but for the grace of God, that could be me.”
Most of us too often forget when we encounter individuals who are “down on their luck” that each and every one of us wants and needs the same things in life: positive relationships with others; confidence that we have skills and talents that are valued; freedom to be our true, whole selves and be accepted as such; the knowledge that we have material and emotional “basics” from one day to the next; belief that if any of these basics are in jeopardy we know where we can get appropriate help and support. Here at the Full Frame Initiative, we see these basics as interdependent parts of a whole that all human beings require, and call them the Five Domains of Wellbeing: Social Connectedness, Mastery, Safety, Stability and Meaningful Access to Relevant Resources. I believe the angels James writes about deeply understand the universality of the five domains of wellbeing and they see all people striving to make these happen for their lives, doing the best they can given their particular circumstances and experiences. Whether reaching beyond the walls caused by inter-racial violence; or writing about the attachment disorder experienced when young children don’t have healthy connection with parents; or wearing a clown nose to disarm people and create space for connection; or taking responsibility for teaching the next generation the power of compassionate leadership – each of the angels on James’ journey see the common humanity in people and risk connecting to it when many others won’t.
Of course, James has been and is an angel, too. I have no doubt that when he stops to have conversations along his ride for change each person feels the gentle holding of their stories in James’ hands and the sharing is a mutual blessing.
Audrey Jordan is FFI’s Director of Community Engagement and Evaluation. She has been “shadow blogging” FFI ally James Encinas, who is on a bicycle “Ride for Change” across the country to help bring awareness to and gather support for Trauma Informed Care Services and Solutions. Audrey and James are collaborating to learn more about how FFI’s Five Domains of Wellbeing are translated by people who are sharing their stories of hope and healing. You can follow James via ACES Connection.