Sunday, May 26, 2013

Josh the Bridge

Two homeless people that I recognized from church were drinking coffee and smoking outside of the coffee shop that I had just walked out of.  My van was parked right in front of them so I stopped and said, "hello".  One of them recognized me and introduced me to his friend.  I thought that it was very interesting that, despite the fact that I am married to the lead pastor, he referred to me as "the mom of that boy... you've probably seen him around church".

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.


  1. Yup, that is part of the beauty and privilege of hanging with Josh. He brings connections to people I might otherwise not talk to. And that leads to unexpected conversations. One time one of the homeless people just had the best time analyzing J's vision issues. He knew quite a lot about how eyes work! Getting to see intelligence and creative spark in homeless people is something I hadn't expected before being a part of our church and hanging with your boy.