In his college days, Tim attended a big downtown church. This was back in carefree days before he ever had a thought about “care giving.” But he noticed that every Sunday, a dented, rust spotted van brought a group of “different” people to the church. They were residents of a special needs group home.
At a high point of the service, the whole congregation would gather around a raised central platform and altar, and sing the ancient hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Most of the people would let the choir carry it, even though all were supposed to be singing out to God. Most heads were bowed down into hymnals or leaflets, trying to get the notes right and playing it safe by doing a kind of musical mumble.
Except for the special needs bunch from the beat up van. They would look up and bellow, all way off key and each in a personal melody that had zero to do with the sheet music. And Sunday after glorious Sunday, they taught Tim to get over his twitchy churchy nervous inhibition and really open his heart in worship. They were doing it right, and by just being themselves they took care of Tim’s soul.
Decades later, our autistic son, Joey, is amused by grumpy male voices. Disney villains crack him up. He likes Mr. MacGregor in the BBC version of Peter Rabbit. And he laughs at Tim, stumbling around pre-coffee and growling “Bad dog” when Lily, our Lab, gets underfoot. (Not sure if the movie characters remind him of Tim or if Tim reminds him of the characters.)
Our son’s chuckling is a constant reminder that stuff that seems urgent and agitating can be shrunk down to just goofy. His laughter cares for us, even at times when he’s the one raising our blood pressure.
How about you? Do the ones in your care teach you stuff? Do they bring out qualities you didn’t know you had? In what ways do they take care of you?