I’ve taken him every single day since the new school year began on August 23rd.
It was a deal I made with him, to ease the transition from being at home for the summer to going back into the classroom for six hours each day.
Between working on his IEP goals, attending speech, occupational, and physical therapy and adaptive PE, then coming home and spending the next several hours being challenged during his in-home behavioral intervention program, Andrew is truly one of the hardest working kids I know.
It’s only natural I would want to reward him.
Some kids would want to go to Chuck E. Cheese.
Some kids would plead to be taken to Disneyland.
Still others would beg for ice cream, or cookies or cookies made out of ice cream.
Andrew wants none of these things.
His heart is set on one place, and one place only, and so each day after I pick him up and cover him with kisses, we buckle up our seat belts and drive to his favorite place on earth by a long shot.
I feel many things when I witness the all-encompassing joy that surrounds my son when he’s in a church: awe, envy, confusion, pride, happiness, hope, wonder.
Sometimes, as he stands in front of the alter and looks up toward a heaven I cannot seem to find, I feel as if I’m eavesdropping on a very private moment and I try to give him as much space as I can safely allow.
Sometimes, I want to scream, “I WANT TO SEE WHAT YOU SEE! I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW! I WANT TO FEEL WHAT YOU FEEL!!!” Because when I enter the same church he does, I feel many things, but peace and tranquility and unconditional love are not usually one of them.
But it’s not my place to do that, and my son does not owe me any answers.
For now, it’s enough that I’m able to witness firsthand the incredible transformation that occurs when he is is here, this place that he finds to be sacred in a way I never have.
But maybe that’s God’s plan.
All this time I’ve kept thinking it’s my job to lead my son, but maybe this is God’s way of telling me to start following him instead.
And so, every day, at approximately 2:20 p.m, we find ourselves pulling into the parking lot of our local Catholic church.
And every day, there’s this unmistakable sensation that washes over me as I watch Andrew enter through the doors in a way that tells me he is home.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and
the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them.”