A Prayer in my Heart
Some years ago I came across one of those 9-11 stories. A story that occurred on that fateful morning when the planes came crashing at the towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania.
A priest was near the location in New York when the first plane hit. People that could fled the scene. But the priest ran towards the struck tower. He went inside and helped as many people as he could to get out. Only he didn’t make it out. His body was found. They found a note inside the priest’s pocket. It was the words of a prayer. I don’t remember all the words, but some of them I do. Words that I have since kept in my heart:
Have me go where you’d have me go today,
have me meet whom you’d have me meet and
have me say what you’d have me say.
Having been recently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, I have hindsight. I can’t prove it; it’s a matter of faith that the Lord directed me a little over two years ago to move back to my hometown and land a job of working as a teaching assistant in the school district I grew up in. This job often takes me to the classrooms of children who have autism, ADHD, down syndrome, etc.
I met a 12 year old girl whose behavior reminded me of my own at her age. I did what she did — floor pacing, talking to myself, and living in my make-believe world. I would do so in my room with door closed or retreat to the side of the house. Of course, sometimes I would get caught and I knew my behavior was “odd” to the eyes of the beholder. I was embarrassed but it didn’t stop me from doing it. You might as well as told me not to breathe.
There were other children I saw some of “me” in, but this child was the light bulb that set me down the path of a diagnosis that would change my life. Again, I can’t prove it but I believe the Lord put this young girl and me together. I confided in her teacher about my diagnosis and her student’s part in it. She said, “You could say she brought you out of the closet.”
Since my diagnosis, I began telling my story in person and in writing. Mostly in writing because that’s my passion. I can’t prove it but I believe the Lord is giving the words to say. Instead of keeping it inside of me, I am shouting it on the rooftops with the talent for “words” the Lord has blessed me with.
I wish I could say I always go where he directs me, meets whom he wants me to meet, and says what He lays on my heart to say. No, I don’t but when I do, I’m humbled to have a part in something much bigger than myself.
This child who has made such a difference in my life is on the lower end of the autism spectrum. She can understand words, but she cannot say them. If I told her my story, her part in it, I doubt she’d understand. Even if she did, she would be unable to share a cup of conversation with me about it. I saw her a few weeks ago when out of the blue, she came up to me and gave me a bear hug. I hugged her back and held on for a few seconds thinking of how much she meant to me.
Sometimes words aren’t necessary. A hug will just have to do.