It is a huge honour to host Jonathan on my blog. One of the principles I try to live by is to use language carefully, thereby doing my small part to steward words that can so easily lose their value. So when I say Jonathan is courageous, inspiring, possessed of a wisdom and grace deeper and truer than most could even aspire to, a 12 year old who writes like a literary great with a lifetime’s experience, I am not being hyperbolic but scrambling for a way to convey Jonathan’s brilliance.
Jonathan was born with multiple health challenges as a result of his mother’s injuries in a car accident late in her pregnancy. He has undergone numerous surgeries and lives with pain and profoundly limiting physical constraints. The medical profession assumed his mind was also limited and for years he was unable to prove otherwise. It was his mother, Chantal, who doggedly pursued his right to be educated, and eventually she and others found a system to unlock Jonathan’s voice. By looking at letters on a Perspex board, he spells out what he wants to say, and in this painstaking way he has written an entire book, ‘Eye Can Write.’ For those of us writers out there – let that sink in and let’s remember it the next time we are sitting in front of a blank screen whining about how painful it is to squeeze the words out…
‘Eye Can Write’ is the story of Jonathan’s life and his faith, which he talks about more in our interview. His book is poetic, funny, moving, inspiring and if you’ve not yet read it, please put it at the top of your reading list and buy a copy for a friend too. All proceeds go to his charity, ‘Teach Us Too’ – which is dedicated to campaigning for the right for all children to be taught to read and write regardless of their educational label.
Q and A with Jonathan
We understand that the faith element of your story has been contentious in some areas of the media. Why is it so important that you keep Jesus in your story?
Without Jesus my story is incomplete. To leave Him out is like being shown a watermill without water; it is an impressive structure, but without water it is defunct and devoid of purpose. Jesus is both the reason I live and my life source. Whenever I am asked to share my story with the media I always bring in my faith and find it very frustrating when it is cut out when the piece is aired or published. Why is the media so scared of Jesus? Archbishop Justin’s answer to this conundrum is that if we all talk about Jesus more then it will become the norm and the media will follow. In the meantime, I am trying to learn the art of presenting my faith so that it is integral and can’t be left out; and sometimes I manage it, like the time the word Jesus remained in my story in The Times.
With the media I have got used to this issue, but when the My Life programme decided to reduce my faith to a visit to church on Christmas Day I was livid, and I wrote saying I felt betrayed. In the end I went through the two cuts of the film and worked out how my faith could remain in – all 14 seconds of it! It was a similar journey keeping the faith elements in my book.
What difference has prayer made to your journey?
Prayer is integral to my life. For as long as I can remember Jesus has been with me, guiding and sustaining me; prayer is being with Jesus and inviting his presence to permeate my life. When I pray for others, I imagine bringing them to Jesus’ presence and sometimes sitting with them, sometimes leaving them with Him. Being in a wheelchair and non-verbal I have more time to watch and pray.
Throughout my life people have prayed for me, and for that I am very grateful.
Jonathan blogs at www.eyecantalk.net
Eye Can Write is available from Amazon and all good bookshops.