I've heard said that if spirituality isn’t practical it isn’t spirituality. I have to agree, though depending on what you have lived, the word spirituality can have if not impractical then at least passive connotations. If you have a child on the spectrum, passivity seems not to be an option. For many such parents, their child’s life seems like a call to action. Spirituality, meanwhile, remains that thing you can do to calm the hell down after a long day spent driving to therapies, or calling doctors, or just wondering when and if your life will ever return to the normal you once imagined it might be.
If spirituality were only meditating once a day, or going to temple, or reading Eckart Tolle, then perhaps this would be true. But in reality spirituality refers, among other things, to the part of our life that cannot be perceived by the five senses – our thoughts, emotions, imagination, and intuition. We cannot merely turn these parts of ourselves off, we cannot stop thinking or feeling, or even imagining or intuiting. What I think and feel about someone or something always determines what I do or say. In this way, the inside and the outside are not separate at all.
Which is why No One Is Broken is a spiritual answer to the question of autism. The first and best thing my wife and I did with our son was to join him, which was to do what he did no matter how odd it appeared. Yet we had to join him without judgment or he wouldn’t let us join him, and the only way to do something without judgment is to see it as correct instead of incorrect. What we did physically meant less than we did mentally – or, more accurately, perceptually.
For me, the worst part of having a child diagnosed on the spectrum was not the I. E. P. meetings, or the long and expensive trips to San Francisco, or the looks from strangers in stores, but the fear. The fear that he would never be what I wanted him to be and that somehow this would rob me of my own happiness; the fear that there was truly something wrong with him, that he had lost at the roulette wheel of life and genetics, and if it were so for him, then why not me. It was the fear of a broken world, a place where the unlucky could fail for no reason, and where happiness is something that arrives periodically when the pieces of life arrange themselves for a moment before falling apart once again.
There was absolutely nothing more practical I could do for Sawyer or for myself then learn to see a world without broken people. I didn’t want to live in a broken world, and so how I could possibly entice my son to join me there? To see a world without broken people I had to travel to a place within me beyond the view of any human eye or microscope, a place without judgment or comparison or failure. This was where I wanted to live. It was always there for me if I could only remember to find it, and who better than my own child to remind me that I had wandered from home.
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I am the author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence, and Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. Learn more here.