Monday, April 11, 2011
The ugly beautiful
The other third graders are calm, quiet and as focused as third grade boys can be. Gates is a live wire, talking, spinning, leaping, squatting. Where others blend in, he screams 'look at me!'
The boys start doing drills, dribbling the ball from one end of the field to the other. It takes him twice as long and his gait is awkward, his legs stiff. Loving soccer does not impart even a speck of talent. And it hurts to see him so clearly out of place, so different from the others.
As I number the gifts on the way to one thousand so many of them are easy. Who can't see the thanks in sunshine, in spring's arrival, in hot coffee and blue skies? But this moment, this is what Ann Voskamp calls 'the ugly beautiful'. The moments in life where brokenness seeps through and HOW do I give thanks in this for a child who is different?
Tears sting behind my eyes as I watch him, willing him to focus, willing him to calm down just a bit. Willing him to be normal, just for this moment, just for this practice, just for this season. And as I blink to keep them back I think, "Give thanks in the ugly beautiful. Give thanks FOR the ugly beautiful," and for thirty long minutes I fight my battle of eucharisteo in the hard spots. Breaking myself open and letting thanks spill out even when I hurt. When I hurt for my child, for all that he isn't.
And as I break I see what he is and I give thanks in it and for it.
For his utter comfort with who he is.
For his unbridled exuberance.
For his smiles and waves from the goal line.
For the grace of imperfections that strip me of any pretense that I am in control.
For love that is bigger than loving him just for what he can do.
I give thanks in this moment of ugly beautiful and I know that it will come again and maybe with each practice it will get easier, maybe some day I will look at him and see him through God's eyes without the label of Aspergers/different/awkward.
Green pine trees standing sentry among trees still winter-bare.
Wide open blue of midwestern sky.
Little one rushing to put his pj's BACK on so that he can snuggle with dad before getting ready for school.
Giving thanks in the attempt and the not giving up and the accepting failure and keeping on.
Words of encouragement.
Laughter of boys playing catch and tumble with Dad.
Little one noticing my list and asking "Where am I in there?"
The beating of a heart.