● Disarming Disability

Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick is available as an inspirational speaker on the subject ‘DISARMING DISABILITY’.  Scroll down to see a clip from the award winning film, “A Fragile Tree Has Roots.” To read a selection of John C. Walker’s poetry, click here.

John smileJohn smilingSACRED TRUST

There is beauty in disability. The shedding of temporal perspective. The soul seeking; no longer blinded by materiality but reaching to the eternal anchor of pure spirit and becoming aware of our true state which is complete vulnerability.

We subsist behind our illusions of control but we are all as the ethereal dragonfly resting on a radiant flower or torn by turbulent winds.

Through awareness of our precious vulnerability is our chance to experience pure love. And this is the grace, the power behind life. It is a narrow path, difficult to locate amongst the bracken but it is a true direction to what is valuable.

We must always walk lightly, dance lightly, within our bodies, our hearts and our minds. When we fall into the fear of our vulnerability it is anguish.

We are on this delicate blue green sphere floating through a vast and unimaginable universe…how can we be anything but vulnerable? It is a sacred trust to care for each other, for our planet and all life.

Johnny understood this for through his complete and utter vulnerability he came to trust implicitly and ‘believe in the magic of the universe’

John Charles WalkerJohn Charles Walker

My brother was a mystic. He lived his life heart open and thrust to the heavens. He lived his life in a powerful balance of patience and passion; throbbing with dreams; damned within his delicately sculptured but broken body. He lived his life accepting and graciously enduring molten pain.

My brother loved the earth fervently and felt deep compelling compassion for all suffering creatures. He created a channel for heavenly wisdom and was a conduit for singing angelic energy to reach us here on earth.

My brother was mute and severely physically disabled; the result of a preventable birth injury, yet his spirit was undaunted. Bursting with thoughts and ideas he wanted to share, he invented a unique method of communication when he was 15 years old. Since he loved music, he had a large collection of records, and later CDs, that we alphabetized so that he could choose what album he wanted to hear. He adapted this system to be his freedom of speech. By indicating ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with body language, sounds or by looking to ‘yes’ / ‘no’ signs on the arms of his wheelchair, he directed his communication partner to a letter of the alphabet, to the artist, to the album listed under that letter, to the required song and then, in listening to the song, to the word or phrase he wanted to convey. He had memorized his entire music collection! Every word, on every song, on every album became his vocabulary, the building blocks of his statements, poems, songs and story. And he was fast! Patiently waiting for his communication partner to find or return an album till he could give his next direction. It was always an adventure to follow his thoughts.

This is what author Dennis Lee said about John’s writing technique: “I’ve read John C. Walker’s ‘A Fragile Tree Has Roots’ with something close to awe; no forget about ‘close to awe’ – I’ve read it with awe. It is impossible not to respond…to this man’s naked courage and intelligence…it is a very humbling experience to read the book and then discover its history of composition…. as a method…it makes crawling from here (Toronto) to Vancouver on your stomach look like a breeze.”

John Charles Walker.  Photo Credit: John BrokawJohn was born August 7, 1961. The current professional practice at that time was to institutionalize children with disabilities such as John’s. My mother refused to allow him to be institutionalized with my agreement. It would have been a sure death sentence. So my mother, Jean F. (McLellan) Walker, was a pathfinder, ahead of the time, in keeping John at home. Although the doctors often predicted his impending death over the years starting on the day he was born, we had him for thirty-six and a half stunning years. He died January 27, 1998 suddenly, peacefully in his own bed. He had a book of poems, honored in the Commonwealth Poetry Competition, published by Eleanor Koldofsky, Proclaim Publications, an award winning documentary made about him, a children’s book published, notebooks full of ideas, songs put to music from his poetry and he edited a collection of his adult poems not yet published.

My brother was a mystic; a tender soul who by the end of his short, potent life had found sure wings to rise above the harsh, bitter and often violent duality. The difference between a blessing and a curse is love. His life was a gift from God. His words continue to inspire. May he watch over us still.

Cry Trouble, by John Walker Cry Trouble, by John Walker Cry Trouble, by John Walker
A Fragile Tree Has Roots
John C. Walker
Proclaim Publications Inc.
In Other Words
John C. Walker
Annick Press Ltd.
Cry Trouble, Dream Love
John C. Walker


Pond WalkHe rode my back. I, his willing mount. Saddle less, he balanced precariously in no less an act of daredevilry than his counterparts in a circus ring. A fall without a net the potential danger. He gave himself to the ride, to the flow of energy as we followed the winding trails into the beauty of a wild place. I leaping and striding, reveling in feeling competence grow in my strong thighs. He delicate and precious, a rare blossom on this too often cruel planet. Back to heart, the flesh boundary but an illusion in the warmth of a magical current that kept the harmony and pace of our traveling rhythm, that kept him perched upon me, guarded by vigilance and deep love. I know that he was golden lit, encircled by soft curls and enchanted joy. He would lay his face upon my left shoulder, I would make a small saddle for him with my right arm and gently hold his hands with my left hand. And thus we would embark upon many adventures. It was a relief from the torturous contractions that often racked his slender body.

Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick is available as an inspirational speaker on the subject ‘DISARMING DISABILITY’.