Sunday, June 3, 2012

They Never Needed Us

Testimony meeting was wonderfully spiritual today.  Many good people, some of whom I've known for years, stood and shared their feelings about Jesus Christ and his gospel.  Our family was seated at the back of the chapel.  We often are, as it's difficult to get four growing children into their Sunday best, into the car, into the church building, any sooner than ten minutes late.  My husband and I then spend an hour appeasing an autistic four-year-old boy. 

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. 

I grip him tightly in my lap as he struggles gently against my force.  He doesn't do this because he wants free; he craves the pressure against his skin and muscles.  He's actually enjoying it.  I've learned to masterfully dodge the reckless thrust of his battering-ram head.  At first he hums deeply and consistently.  If I let go, he reaches for my arms and wraps them around him again, insisting.  We continue this covert wrestling match for several minutes.  Eventually the 'bio-feedback' affect kicks in.  He sighs in relief.  He quiets.  He becomes still and content for a few precious minutes.  And everyone in the room begins to wonder why it's so quiet.

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. 

There were endless, often dramatic medical events.  There were meltdowns and night terrors and panic attacks and physical distresses of many kinds.  An evening rumble of thunder, once an enjoyable sound to my ears, now made my heart sink at the thought of the long night of fear ahead of her.  There would be no fireworks, no concerts, no movie theaters, no crowds-- we even whispered the 'Happy Birthday' song before she blew out the candles. 

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.