Skip to content

Music Makers

January 21, 2013

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
― Arthur O’Shaughnessy


Did you ever write something, and you were totally uncertain if the people reading it really understood what you meant? Recently, I wrote what felt like a jumbled post, that was really about finding God in one precious moment, in one space that was so intimate it could hardly be described in words. It was a post about letting go of all the politics, judgement and drama that seems to surround Church life anymore for me, and just being with the spirit, because, really isn’t that the whole point? I hope that what I felt I was describing as a sense of peace, a discovery, did not come across as an abandonment of something else, because that was not at all what I was feeling when I wrote it. But it was, and is, a wonderful gift, and a reminder of something I have missed.

When I was growing up, my family was part of what I referred to as a “hippy Catholic” church, and it truly was. Most of the adults there were simply, aging hippies, which was, of course, to a preteen so not cool, uh. 😉 But in that church was the kind of celebration befitting of the kind of man I imagine Jesus to have been. There was music, not the quiet, seemingly monotone hum of hymns turned into durges. No, there were tambourines, flutes, pianos, guitars – in short, there were old hippies singing at the top of their lungs, clapping along (often off beat,) but rejoicing in the Eucharist. And there were kids everywhere, dancing and jumping in the aisles, sitting on the floors playing with toys, running up and down the stairs to the children’s liturgy. It was a beautiful kind of chaos. It was Catholic, but perhaps, just barely. At Easter, they would hire lyrical dancers, with floating skirts and ribbons to interpret the songs that the Church sang. And the Church welcomed people of every creed – Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Gay, Divorced, old and young, blind, deaf, paralyzed. It was fun, in large part because it was loud, and it was different, and different was welcome. Different was celebrated.

There is a debate going on in the autism community lately – what is the goal of “treatment?” Many self-advocates seem to believe that any language referring to a cure, or treatment, or disorder is highly offensive, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Many fear that the goal for many parents is to make their children “fit in;” to get them to look as much like their neurotypical (NT) peers as possible. There are many parents who see acceptance as a form of giving up on their child. There is so much back and forth on this subject, it would be easy for you to observe a real conversation about this elsewhere. I’d rather not get too involved in the politics of it here, except to say this: my children are different. They are different from each other, and they are different from their peers, for many reasons, their autism being only one of those. But their differences are what make them not just special, but spectacular. Their dance, slow and swaying, or funky and wiggly, is what shares their story. They make their own music, they dream their own dreams, they write their own stories, and in living a life of celebration, they have so much more to teach us than just coping skills.

I really don’t think it is my role as their mother to teach them to suppress their flapping hands, or to stop them from dancing in the aisles. It is perhaps more my place to be their biggest cheerleader, to encourage them to be different, to welcome those differences and celebrate them, and in so doing, hopefully encourage a few others to do the same. Then maybe, just maybe the world wouldn’t be such a place of judgement or condemnation for my kids, or for yours. Maybe, just maybe, it would be absolutely safe, absolutely okay to be just exactly who we are, as we are, just as He made us.

If we all sang monotone, if we all spoke the same words in the same way, would that really be a celebration? Would it really be any fun? Would it really be an act of love? Or if we could find a way for everyone to be welcome, for different to be welcome, what would that look like? If we could not only give our children the tools to cope with the sensory and social obstacles that they will encounter in “our” world, but also give society the tools to lower the barriers and open their arms so that “they” could take a step into the world of our children, how is that wrong? How is that giving up? How is celebrating the very thing that makes our children special lowering expectations? I expect so much from my children, I do. They will do so much more than what society expects them to do. They will shine so much brighter than they “should” if only we can get out of the way and let them do it.

What binds us together across our differences in religion or politics or economic theory is that when each one of us is cut, our blood flows red. Mine does and yours does too. Those who would try to appropriate God or family or country for their own narrow ends, who believe that religious faith is the property of one particular ideology, forget the width of God’s embrace, the healing power of a family’s arms, and the generosity of this country’s vision. God, family, and nation belong to us all.

–Senator Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Life&Ink permalink
    January 22, 2013 4:18 pm

    I just love the way you write and what you write about and how you are evolving. You see the joy in the moment. You are discerning and can aside the petty and focus on the important. And such an attitude, such a love shines through in your posts and on the smiles of your beautiful children. I am glad our paths have crossed. 🙂 Charlotte

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: