Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Resurrecting Autism Awareness

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I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
(Ephesians1: 19-20, NLT)

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

(Romans 8:11, NLT)

It's April again. And I love April. Spring finally wins its valiant battle against winter and shows its resilience. I love being able to stand defiantly on the deck, without my winter jacket and celebrate the resurrection. Life wins!

Awareness - Enthusiasm

It's April. It's autism awareness month, and I have mixed feeling about that.  At first, April was an opportunity for me to grow in my awareness of the supports, treatments, therapies, schools, recreation... Social media comes alive with parent conversations and a lonely journey feels a little less alone. Of course, there is the excess of helpful emails from friends about the news clips and documentaries... After a few years, I became an autism 'expert' to my friends. I used April to advocate for my son's needs, sharing insights into the lives of people with autism and their families. I eagerly shared about inclusion in the spiritual community.

Awareness - Cynicism

But awareness never caught up with action, and I deeply understand the parents who cynically point out, 'autism awareness is every day!'. The gap only gets bigger as our kids get older. For many, the euphoria of the occasionally met milestone fades as the occasions seem fewer and fewer. The gap between need and action, especially in many of our communities of faith, can seem uncrossable, and I struggle to avoid the comfort of cynicism and resentment. I also struggle to share these conflicted feelings. I don't want to disturb/hurt the many who are just being stirred to further awareness and action by yelling 'it's not enough!' Still, I can imagine the man in the wheelchair watching the wheelchair accessible apartment building being erected, with an estimated date of completion in three years. What do we do in the meanwhile?

What? He died??

I think the disciples may have had a similar, though much more tumultuous experience in those last three years of Jesus' life. The burst of hope, new opportunities to make an impact, new therapies... I mean, insights into the scriptures and a blossoming relationship with the Writer of the scriptures. The aha! There's a reason for the pain of autism. 

Then things take a turn. and the turn looks windy, treacherous, and all down hill. And still, people ask you about your child's special gift, like in Rain Man. All you need is a rapid sequence of challenging moments in public or at school, and the hope of earlier years has been crucified. Gone. Dead.


Then, He came back to life. And He promises to continue bringing this life into our lives. Dead things come back to life. Dry bones get moving again. The scriptures say that He was back within 3 days, but recognizing Him was sometimes a problem. The 2 disciples on Emmaus road puzzled over their inability to recognize Him (Luke 24:13 - 35). Mary spoke to Him but thought He was the gardener (John 20:14-18). The resurrection life is at work in our lives, family, kids. I pray for eyes to see it, and faith to believe when I can't see it.

So this April, I will increase my awareness: 
  • of the life of God, resilient and powerful, always overcoming every appearance of death.
  • of the eternal power that raised Jesus from the dead, that energizes my body to be awake at 3 am to help a child navigate a crisis, or to clean the bathroom again, or to discuss blah blah blah with the doctors. 
  • of the hands of God creating support and ministry for families who need to experience resurrection.
  • of the miracle waiting to happen with the touch of my hands, the whisper of a comforting word, and the challenging message to embrace radical service to all who need our care.
I pray that we will experience resurrection power infiltrating all our lives, making everything new and creating space in all our faith communities for people of all abilities.

Dear God, Thank you for your Eternal, Indomitable Life, that will not be silent, that must release resurrection wherever it shows up. Energize our weary hearts. Reawaken your hope in us. Help us to see your life at work in our families, and to release your life to work wherever we are.

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