TITLE: Spiritual Autism
By Betsy Markman
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A mother's view:
He lives in a universe apart, almost another dimension. We stand side-by-side, but his gaze passes right over the world that I see.
I take care of all his details. I bathe him while he ignores me, coax him into clothes to protect his nonexistent modesty, hide medicine in chocolate milk. I put away sharp objects, lock doors, provide food that his too-skinny body needs yet disdains. I hold his hand to keep him out of dangers that he neither notices nor understands.
He doesn't realize that I do these things for him.
The firefighter smiles at the children, catches their eyes, engages them. He talks of pumper trucks and hoses, of sirens and water tanks. He displays his fire-resistant clothes and sharp-pointed axe. His words evoke images of danger and heroism, of lives risked and lives saved.
Phillip cannot be persuaded to stay. He must go to the station's utility closet and stare at the vacuum cleaner. He studies it with the intensity of a guru in meditation, and touches it with something close to reverence.
The vacuum sits immobile, undeserving of the awe it has inspired.
The children skip along on the sidewalk, excited to enjoy a walk with their family. Little fingers point at birds above and sun-dried earthworms below. Cars whiz by, prompting yet another parental lecture on road safety. Questions pepper the air as young minds eagerly soak up knowledge.
Phillip sees none of it, hears none of it. He stands a little ways off, communing with a fire hydrant like a medium consorting with the nether world. The ears which ignored his family's words now press close to hear whatever the hydrant has to say.
The hunk of metal stands in silence, at least as far as I can tell.
The teacher places another flannel-backed figure onto the board. She speaks of miracles, of courage, of fear and hope. Her questions cause hands to shoot up and waggle in the air, accompanied by the universal "ooh, ooh" cry of children who have answers.
Phillip pays no attention. He paces back and forth behind all of the other students, absorbed in his own thoughts. His eyes periodically grow wide with excitement and he jumps up and down, hands flapping, neck muscles standing out in sharp relief, emitting strained, throaty sounds.
He is his whole world.
I long to reach him. I love him so much!
The Father's View:
She lives in a universe apart, almost another dimension. I am everywhere, but her gaze passes right over the world that I want her to see.
I take care of all her details. I offer cleansing while she ignores me, try to coax her into spiritual armor, provide Myself as a balm for her soul. I restrain her mortal enemy, guide her through the right doors, provide spiritual food that her starving soul needs yet disdains. I hold her hand to keep her out of dangers that she neither notices nor understands.
She doesn't realize that I do these things for her.
The Bible rests on my children's laps, catches their eyes, engages them. It talks of living springs and water gushing out of rocks, of last trumpets and spiritual baptisms. It warns of eternal fires, and cuts like a two-edged sword. Its words evoke images of danger and heroism, of lives consecrated and souls needing to be saved.
One daughter of mine cannot be persuaded to stay. She must close its pages and stare at the television. She studies it with the intensity of a guru in meditation, and sacrifices time on its altar.
The TV sits immobile, undeserving of the devotion it has inspired.
My children walk in my outdoors, excited to enjoy their fellowship. They marvel at my birds above and my earthworms below. Worldly temptations call to them, prompting yet another discussion on how to resist. Questions pepper the air as their minds eagerly soak up wisdom.
This daughter of mine sees none of it, hears none of it. She stands a little ways off, communing with a storefront window like a medium consorting with the nether world. The ears which ignored her family's words now press close to hear the siren-song of materialism.
The pile of brick and mortar stands in silence, but only I seem to realize that it has nothing to say.
The pastor reads more verses off of the big monitor screen. He speaks of miracles, of courage, of fear and hope. His questions cause heads to nod, accompanied by an occasional spoken "Amen."
This daughter pays no attention. She sits with all of my other children, but she is absorbed in her own thoughts. Her eyes periodically fill with tears and she shifts around in her seat, neck muscles aching with tension, emitting self-absorbed sighs.
She is her whole world.
I long to reach her. I love her so much!
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