Thursday, November 02, 2006


So today one of the gifts I received was the gift of a couple of hours alone with my six year old son, Patrick. I met him just after school, and (as usual) he was hungry for a snack. So we made microwave popcorn together. He helped open the bag, put it in the microwave, and waited patiently for it to finish.

Eating together, I was struck by the opportunities for togetherness. Little games would develop where we'd put popcorn in our mouths at the same time, pretend to eat it "like monsters," or drop it in our mouths. Just to be silly, we'd do unexpected things with the popcorn like putting it on our heads.

What was great for me was to be able to see how his mind was thinking. Like how he'd notice when something was different or silly, how he'd get in close to share a belly laugh, the care he took when we were trying to take a bite at the same time. Or how he'd respond to my comments of "that was fun" with a pause and then a "yeah!"

I don't yet really know what the future will bring for Patrick. I don't know whether the cognitive delays his teachers keep seeing will improve as we treat his autism, or if he will always struggle with them. I don't know how well he'll be able to read, or write, or think using abstractions. But today I looked at his beautiful face, eating popcorn with me, sharing this simple enjoyment. And somehow none of that mattered. Because if he could really be there with me, enjoying that moment, I knew he was making progress in the areas you need to be able to make friends.

My prayers today are full of gratitude.


more cows than people said...

praise God for this precious popcorn moment with your son.

i spent most of today with a l'arche community in which i used to share time. l'arche is an international movement of spiritually based communities where adults with and without developmental disabilities live cooperatively together. i'll probably blog about the experience tomorrow.

we were reflecting on the new l'arche international identity statement which concludes with the line "We seek to build a world that recognises the unique value of every person and our need for one another."

i celebrate tonight the unique value of your two sons, the particular blessing of the connection you were able to make with your six year old today, and pray that that world where such value and mutuality is central is truly being built so that yours sons receive grace upon grace as they grow.

grateful for the relationship we're building through our blogs!

steve westby said...

more cows,

I am very grateful as well for the chance to get to know you, even if it is just in this "virtual" space.

The l'arche community sounds intriguing to me. I'd love to hear more sometime.

Thank you for your kind words and prayers for my sons. I, too, pray for a world where people can be valued in such a way. I don't think Jesus ever commented on developmental disabilities, but somehow this notion feels profoundly Christian to me.

jledmiston said...

Hi Steve -- found you via "more cows" and we have a lot in common. I would probably/maybe not be worshipping with an institutional church if I wasn't the pastor of one. I keep hoping against hope that people will get it/be inspired to change the world in the likeness of heaven/become radicalized by love -- all those things and more.

But also, we have a son "on the spectrum" too and it's been a wild time. He is now 16 and I pray that he will simply find his place in the world. He doesn't believe in God (or so he says), isn't crazy about church, and has a sweet heart. I wonder what he'll do in life.

Thinking of your kids too.

steve westby said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! It sounds like we really do share a lot in common. I'd love to hear more about your son, if you don't mind sharing -- like how old he was when diagnosed, what interventions you've tried, how all of that has gone, etc.

Anyway, thanks again!