Monday, July 30, 2012

Thanks for the Blanket

As we pull into the parking lot, Eric hops out.  "I'll see you in a few.  Thanks for doing this, honey."

This is the first Sunday since the convention, and we're all excited to be back at Redeemer.  Eric volunteered to fill the need for a percussionist when the need arises.  This is one of those Sundays.

We talked at length about how to go about the whole thing.  Drive the 50 minutes to church an hour early so he can rehearse alone?  No.  Gas for his truck and that trip would be ridiculous.  We need to be there together.  But how?  There's nothing going on in the summer on Sunday mornings but the service and nursery.

Sit in a CE classroom?  No.  Kids would go nuts having a great time, then the room would be a mess and Ryan would be in full play mode, not sit and listen mode.

The kids could play with electronic stuff in the worship room while they rehearse?  Nope.  Taking that from Ryan then asking him to sit for an hour and fifteen minutes through the service without a peep would be too much.

Do we call and bail?

No.  The thought makes us both feel icky.  We promised.  We want to be people of integrity.  Bailing is out of the question.

Any change in routine can send whatever plans we make straight down the tubes.  So many times pulling one thing from routine has sent us down in flames, and we're not talking a blaze of glory.

The answer wound up being the four of us in the van, reading books together and playing.  It was just about forty-five minutes, and the weather hadn't been that horridly hot.  It wasn't bad at all.  The kids even seemed to enjoy crawling all over the inside of the van.

It's another conundrum.  We want to serve.  We want to be a part as much as possible, but that's the hard part.  What's possible?

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines the word "possible" as "being within the limits of ability, capacity, or realization."  There's a lot of wiggle room in there.  If one can only know the true limits of oneself, then that means that my definition of "possible" will vary wildly from person to person.

But once in a while, along comes someone whose definition takes on the same general shape as your own.

Once in worship this week, Ryan was not exactly calm.  As I tried to visit with a friend, he wiggled in the seat, beat his chest, slapped his legs, and fussed.  Eric wasn't with us.  Sitting still his hard enough when your routine is normal, but when it's rocked, it's near impossible.  Our next step to worship participation for Ryan this summer has been sitting up.  Sounds simple, no?

During the welcome portion of the service, a nice lady came and introduced herself.  She'd been wanting to meet us, she said.  Then she introduced us to her son, who has Asperger's.

When we meet new people, many times they will try to talk to Ryan.  To make sure they don't feel like he's being rude, we will mention autism and that social interaction isn't quite his forte.  We continue to feel through the thick blanket of foggy difference, often finding a little something in common.

Other times, the fog blows away, leaving another blanket.

Her words were quick, because there wasn't much time.  I told her that we're working on sitting up in church and that it's hard, and that Ryan has two younger siblings that we feel like we should be teaching to sit through the service as well even though they're childcare aged.

With a knowing, caring, comforting look, she said, "Don't put too much on yourself."  She also reminded me that no one really understands what we go through.  Not in a snitty, snarky, divisive way at all, but in a "you know, I get it... you're trying... don't worry when others don't" kind of way.

Listening to her advice, I felt every muscle let go.  The warm, soft blanket of understanding shrouded me in comfort.

She didn't have to seek us.  She could have stayed in her seat rather than walk through the crowd back to the very back to find us.

But I'm so glad she did.

And if you're wondering, Ryan laid down the entire service, his sweet head snuggled into my lap.

And he didn't make another sound.

Thanks be to God for that sweet blanket of comfort that comes when someone steps out and extends a hand.  May we all feel that and pay it forward.

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