It usually falls to one or the other of us to manage little Moose (so called because he is mighty but docile) during Sacrament meeting--whichever of us seems to have started off with the greatest success. Today the lot falls to me.
I do the usual. I feed him dry cereal and help him sip water from a cup. I try to engage him in a book, which today is not effective. I brush his feet and hands firmly with a soft-bristled plastic brush to calm his senses. I block his way out of the row with my leg so he can't escape down the aisle of the chapel. I try to quiet his 'stemming' noises-- various favorite vocal sounds that to him amount to speech.
Once the meeting has ended, he will jump out of my lap and head for the front of the chapel, where he will take a seat on a carpeted step and enjoy the organ music. But for now he just lays there in my arms with his head cocked sideways, facing me. I look at him, and an inspiration springs into my mind. "Someday, this will all be over," I think. "And then I'm going to get to meet you. I'm going to get to meet you, you extraordinary man."
I've been privy to more than one spiritual intimation that he really is a remarkably choice spirit in a broken body. He is not our first experience with autism; our teenage daughter, our oldest child, is also autistic. There was tremendous sensory and emotional trauma involved as we battled through her first seven years of life.
Her early years were an intense experience for us, a fiery furnace of adversity through which we were refined for the children yet to come. Thankfully, we identified which therapies and biological treatments worked well for her, and through them we were able to create a place of relative peace for her. She's aware, and she can be happy.
Moose is a different creature. He didn't endure the painful sensory symptoms that his sister endured. He was always happy. He was always unconcerned. He's not a skilled sea captain navigating a storm in a broken vessel. He's a spirit of the purest, brightest nature, locked in for safekeeping. And he seems to know it. He seems to be okay with that.
There is a valiant army of God among us, hiding in plain sight. Some in their company have agreed to a level of suffering in this barely-discernible dot on the eternal timeline, in order to be a catalyst for the improvement of other souls; they have agreed to be an opportunity for the rest of us to become Christ-like. Others just watch quietly from inside their protective cocoons as the world goes by and the minutes tick away toward a better life in a glorified world-- a world worthy of their presence. These are the spirits that didn't need a test, the spirits that never needed us. But our merciful Father knew how much we needed them.
Someday, my stripling warriors in disguise. Someday this will be over and I will meet you. Until then, I am honored to be your secret guardian.