Measure of love is a cup of cold water, a place at the table
Backpacks drop. Shoes, they plop. Words rush and tumble, ordinary moments weaving, thread like, on the loom, shuttle passing back and forth. And then it comes.
“They’ve abandoned us,” he says. His tone is matter of fact. I look up. What?
“At the lunch table.” I reach for another shirt. Spray and scrub. Spray and scrub.
“The autistic kid’s been sitting with us.” Oh. This is news. For years, I know, he’s eaten at the same table in the same lunchroom with the same group of friends. I’ve heard it often in these after-school conversations. And now a new fellow has joined them.
“Everyone else got up and left.” There’s no anger in his voice. He, my nonemotive child, is simply telling me what happened. “Everyone but me and my friend.”
Just like that, I’m in that lunchroom, watching it unfold. I hear the clink of spoons. Smell the noontime aromas. See tables, round, filled with kids who belong. And I see the one, uncertain and socially awkward, who needs a space to sit, a place to belong.
I’m still kneeling there on the laundry room floor. My son, he finishes the story as I toss in the soiled shirt. “Everyone else just got up and left, everyone but us.” The movie, it’s still playing, and I can see the three sitting at that table round.
“He apologized.” What? “He said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble.’ And I said, ‘It’s not you. It’s them.’”
I’m stunned. Disbelieving. Proud. I look at him, my blue-eyed, freckle-faced boy-turning-man, and I say it. “I’m proud of you. That’s exactly what Jesus would do. He will bless. Oh, He will bless.”
Today, I’m sifting it through, taking it in, mulling it over. Vision. I’m thinking of our vision and how poorly we often see. How unjustly we judge. How hasty we are. And I’m soberly aware of how much pain we inflict when we see wrongly.
It was my friends who reminded me. When I shared the story, there went their hearts, and precious mothers, aunts and friends who love special-needs children opened right up.
“As a mom of a son with Asperger’s, I applaud your son and his friend…and wipe a tear or two,” said one. “My son will be celebrating his twentieth birthday. Through the years, he has done very well, but the past year has been hard for him. ‘Delayed development socially,’ says the psychiatrist. But his sweet nature and wonderful love have never faltered.”
“As a parent of a child with OCD and being made fun of myself for being heavy all of my life, I have told the children, ‘You never, ever make fun of someone! You don’t know the whole story, and God made them, too. We are all here for a purpose,’” said another reader.
A purpose. Oh, yes. Yes! We’ve all been made for a purpose. Made, created and designed in the image of God Himself.
If we, then, are each formed by God with souls that never die, His breath within our nostrils, then who may judge another? Who may say what is normal and who is worthy to be loved? Who can carry such authority?
“Not to take anything away from Boy Three,” said another friend, “but what I really marvel at are the kids who are able to walk away. To know they are hurting another and (to) choose that anyway. Because so many find it so easy to walk away, maybe that’s what makes it a great accomplishment instead of being merely decent. Good for (him) and his folks.”
She’s right. Such consideration should be commonplace. Kindness to others, regardless of color, ability, intelligence or name, ought to be so normal and expected that anything else is abnormal. It should be “merely decent.”
Perhaps it starts with our eyes. And our ears. And our hearts. When we see rightly and hear rightly, we will love rightly.
When we see that others, whether broken or whole, are image bearers, we will treat them with all the love and compassion we would give to Christ Himself. For we’d know that to hurt, judge, ignore and reject is to do it to Christ Himself.
We’d know that to hear the cries, spoken or silent, of the needy is to hear the cry of His heart. That the cup of water (or the spot at the table) given to one of the least of these is, in all reality, given to Christ Himself.
We’d live, knowing that loving others is the only sure way to prove our love for Him. And we’d remember that one day, we shall give account before the Lord and Creator of all.
Lord, give us eyes that see, ears that hear and hearts that love. In every face, let us see Yours. In every cry, to hear Your voice. May the love of Christ be our highest aim and greatest endeavor. Amen.
Note: This “Grounds for Insanity” column was published in the 09/03/12 edition of The Goshen News. It wasn’t the piece that I had planned, but it was the one He’d planned.