This was going to be - the Church III, but I was interrupted this morning while waiting to go to church, my church. In my years with Derlene, since she really was not comfortable with church folks, we had two rituals on Sunday morning. The first part was CBS's Sunday Morning program which I have been watching for years and the other was Joel Osteen's TV program. I will continue to watch CBS as it's focus is always on people and I happen to believe that is why the church has existed over the years, to serve people, God's creation.
Anyway, this morning, I found myself intrigued by another of their segments, focusing on children with Autism. This morning, the subject was the second son of a couple who seemed to be very happy with their marriage and especially, their first son. The next one was what many would call - different, he turned out to be Autistic in his second year, True to form, the couple could not understand this and in spite of all of the counsel they received, the best "remedy" seemed to be his fascination with tapes of Disney movies and he would set for hours watching them, thoroughly pleased with his life. Then, as he was in his fourth year he came to his mother, specifically and accurately quoting a character in one of the many movies he had been watching His mother was, at first, astounded but they took him to the specialists who were aware of his life and things began to change. I had hoped to get a re-run to share with you the details I have forgotten about it, but as the years passed along he has progressed into what we want to call normal life and the segment closed with a clip of him tutoring others with the same affliction.
I had wanted to have this available as there are professionals dealing with this discovery, but it reminded me of my own experiences with autistic children.
Many years ago, I was helping people in our church in another city with the problems they presented to us and a couple introduced me to Autism. It seemed as though they had traveled several miles hoping to find someone who would pray and lay hands on them and remove this tragedy from their lives. I agreed to do this, but first I asked where they lived and when they told me, it seemed as if I was being "instructed" to go there and meet the boy, I will call him Tommy. To make a longer experience shorter, I agreed to go and wound up in their living room three weeks later. Tommy seemed to recognize me as he took me by the hand and led me to the room where he normally played. He wanted me to set on the floor with him and for two hours, he kept "instructing" me by putting a toy in my hand and then showing me what to do. Then, all of a sudden, he stopped, put the toys away and took me back to his parents in their living room. We had never said a word to one another and I had no words or explanation for what had happened. I just knew I was supposed to be there.
I would come back three times and we would repeat the same ritual, except the last time I was there, he greeted me with a hug and a "Hi, Mac". His parents said that was the first time he had ever spoken to an outsider. I was moving out of the area, so we would not see each other but, his parents sent me letters where he had written those words and "Let's play". Later on, they told me he was now in a full-time school and was progressing quite well. I never fully understood that experience until now.
A few years ago I moved to this area and there was an Autistic child among my in-laws. The first time I met her, I was instantly in love with her. Her young spirit filled whatever room she was in and after awhile, we learned to dance together. There seemed to be a problem, however, as others pointed to the fact that her mother and the biological father were not married and it seemed apparent, this delightful little girl became a problem to everyone who was involved in the family dynamics. It doesn't seem to bother her as she, like so many of the others, appear to live in their own little world.
Although we are now separated, I continue to pray for her and there have been moments when it was as if I was being asked to pray specifically for certain needs that she had. How does one comprehend such requests when it appears, there is no way to understand the requests.
Then, this morning, as I watched the CBS program, I began to understand. This autistic boy was very much like Tommy, my young friend from years past. He found the "interpreter" he needed in the Disney films. Tommy had used me to become an interpreter between himself and his family. Autistic children need interpreters and they will find them wherever the medium is unconditional love. They do not live on our plain, but if we learn to love them - unconditionally, they will invite us into their realm.
Why? How does this happen? We need to ask our own selves, why are we so content to live in an environment where we find it to be so easy to find reasons not to love one another?
Finally, I understand my own "problems" over the years. I thought I had to learn to earn the love and respect of my own family, and when I tried and I was rejected on my terms, I isolated myself. I was not autistic, but I might as well have been. I used to laugh at myself, accusing myself of the fantasy "farms" I created. Remember that old adage, "If you think you can, you can." It took me nearly 45 years to abandon that lure.
Now, like the boy in that TV segment, I have overcome my phobias. I have learned how to love, unconditionally and the miracle is, I know that I know, I am being loved in return.