Sunday, May 26, 2013
Josh the Bridge
His friend immediately knew who he was talking about. "Oh yeah. I've seen him. He . . . uh, whaddaya call it? He walks in circles, right?"
"He has autism." I offered, trying to be helpful.
"Right, right. Autism."
They were both very pleased to have the right word and did not seem at all uncomfortable about talking about my son. They asked how he was doing and offered the observation that he seemed to be more calm on Sunday mornings. We had a lengthy, pleasant conversation about special needs, and kids and our community. To them, knowing that I was Joshua's mom seemed to make them more at ease with me, like we had an unspoken understanding of what it is to have hardship in your life. It was a surprisingly warm and connective conversation given how little we knew each other and how dissimilar our lives are in many ways.
I've noticed that Josh has this effect on many others who live a different sort of life than most people. A young teen in our church, who is a foster child, seems to have a natural affinity for Josh and offers to help out with him on Sunday mornings whenever he can. Another woman, who has mental health issues, has approached me and has told me that she feels like she relates to Josh in having a different kind of brain. She tells me that she sees the love of God in Josh as she watches him interact around the bagel and doughnut table.
For me, Josh is like a bridge to many different types of people, especially people who are marginalized. It's almost as if I have some sort of instant credibility or trust that I, too, live an alternative and difficult life even though I'm a minivan driving suburban mom. This brings a richness and a diversity of people to my life that I treasure.