Anglican School's Easter Play (4/3/12)
So about noon yesterday we arrived at the Garden Tomb and sat with our friends the Ludlows. About a half hour later the children arrived on buses from school. It was a Passion and Resurrection play all wrapped into one, with the children taking parts and singing songs. Here are some representative video clips from the experience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TBRqNVl4Y7w
So he sat in the back, absently-looking around and sometimes vocalizing or flapping his hands, both signs of anxiety for him. That was hard to watch. It was sadder that he did not sing a single song or seem to take any notice of the story that is central to our faith.
Fortunately he was seated on the back off to the left behind some big potted plants, so no one really noticed, except for me and Elaine, who were keeping an eye on him and knew what kinds of behaviors to look for.
|Samuel, sitting there and trying not to be uncomfortable during the play|
It was one of those moments when autism is a hard, painful reality. Rachel is precocious and a high achiever. If anything, with her we have fallen into the trap of expecting too much from her. But with Samuel, we just wish that he could be like any of the other kids with just typical, normal behavior. In fact, there was a terrible, bitter irony that we were having all these disappointed and hopeless feelings during a play about Jesus and his atoning sacrifice for us, which is the foundation of all we believe and hope for. We read and teach and testify about Jesus and his miracles, and yet the miracle we want more than anything seems always beyond our reach.
Yet I am still led to recognize the small miracles, which cumulatively over time have amounted to a very great miracle indeed. Samuel is so much more functional than we had ever hoped he would be, and he is, generally, an incredibly happy child in his own little world. And we had a small miracle just today, after the play when things seemed dark.
|The play was over at last, to Samuel's relief|
At the end of the play, the children took their applause and Samuel, standing at last with the group, gave a little bow. That was sweet . . . and sad. When he came up to us afterwards, he asked, "Did I do well?" How were we to answer that? He had not done anything! But he had stayed up there the whole time, even though sitting in front of a crowd must have been terrifying for him, and he had more-or-less controlled his behavior, not allowing himself to be too extreme in his flapping, vocalizations, or "odd" actions. Suddenly I remembered the horrible, but wonderful, experience that we had had with his being in the school spelling bee last year (if you have not read my essay The Failure that Was a Success: How My Son's Losing the Spelling Bee Was the One of the Proudest Moments of My Life about that experience yet, please do). "Yes, buddy, you did a good job," was our response.
|Samuel looking at "Golgotha" (Gordon's Calvary)|
So I led him to the far side of the garden, where a viewing point looks over towards Gordon's Calvary over a busy Arab bus station. "That's the same as the picture in the book," said Samuel, referring to my Easter book, God So Loved the World. And before I knew it, I was having a basic, but important, discussion with my son about Good Friday and how Jesus died for us. The sounds of the buses coming and coming, though at first a disjuncture with what should be a holy site, seemed appropriate to me: outside of the city gates, wherever our Lord was crucified, people were coming and going on a busy road.
|See God So Loved the World, 81.|
|The picture I have been waiting to get . . .|
Before we caught a cab home to the Jerusalem Center, we walked through that area of East Jerusalem, in search of so Easter Egg dyes for this weekend. I talked Samuel into it by promising him an ice cream bar. While at a small Arab convenience store, he also got a Hippo Candy treat that they have here that he likes.
As we walked down crowded, foreign streets that normally would have been worrisome for him, he was instead rather talkative (for Samuel). "Where are they from? What do they speak?" And then back to the important topic: "When is Good Friday?" The end of this week, pal. "That's when Jesus died." "When is Easter, Dad?" This week, buddy. "And Jesus is alive again. Where does he live now?" In heaven, where he and Heavenly Father can look down on us and take care of us, was my simplistic answer.
The little gift shop that was our Christmas store in December was now an Easter store. We got the coloring materials for our Easter eggs. Samuel cannot wait to make them. We went home, and he went to his room to play his Wii and watch his Mario movies as usual. But he was also more talkative, telling me several times, unprompted, "I love you, Dad." And not long before bed, as Elaine and I were lying on our own bed resting (why is it that getting children ready for bed is such an ordeal that we need to prepare for it?), he climbed in between us to snuggle. My precious son. Disabled and so very abled at the same time.
|Getting ready for bed|