So today is the first official day of Lent. Forty days until Easter, and forty days of doing my best to prepare Michael for the meaning of Easter, or at least the Christian or Catholic significance of it: that Jesus conquered death so that humans souls can live forever in Heaven one day. This is a heavy topic for any kid. I remember catechism and the way my parents taught me about Easter. I was confused and scared at first, but as I got older I started to understand that we had to take things on faith as believers. I learned how to pray from the heart, taught to me by my mother and grandmother. They taught me the importance of going to mass and memorizing the prayers of our Catholic faith, but just as ardently they taught me how to pray to God in my own words. They also taught me to respect all forms of faith and belief. There is no one single way to believe and pray to a Higher Power. I have in turn been passing this down to Michael, who without fail, uses his own words every morning and evening to thank God and ask for help. I am so proud of him. Even with the struggles of his believing in something he can’t touch or see he is doing this.
Religion is such a difficult subject for many people, particularly someone on the autism spectrum who thinks of things very concretely as being touchable, reachable and knowable. Still, the stubborn dreamer and believer in me wants to share this connection with Michael. At the hardest times in my life prayer and believing in something bigger than me is what has gotten me through. As I got older, I truly began to see God in people, animals, situations and in nature. I know now that nothing is an accident, and though we of course have choices and some control over what happens, there is something bigger out there pushing us towards our evolution as human beings. I truly believe the God of every religion and faith is the one pushing us towards this revolution. The other two times I feel this power, energy other than when in prayer is when meditating or walking in nature. But yet there is no force or physical entity there. It’s so hard to explain that I believe God is there with us, me, and we cannot see Him/Her/It or whatever you call this Being.
I even thought of taking Michael to our church’s pancake supper last night, but he’s been tired, we had an appointment with our Psycho Educator, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him with too much. He’s been doing so well with new behavior systems, a new extracurricular activity, and learning to see his Mom in a new light. Mom is learning that too, so now there are no more excuses for either of us to hold back.
He did so well at church last week, and I think in his own way he is trying to make his peace with the unanswered questions. He told me how good it felt to take communion and I could tell he was happy to see the familiar faces of the parishioners he knows and loves. They know and love him too. 🙂 We are going to get back to doing his church homework, talking more about Easter and what God is. These conversations sometimes even happen naturally, so I’m not worried. I know it will work out, and like I wrote the other day, I am learning to be in the moment more, and not over plan and over worry. Been there, done that. I’m ready to move on and teach Michael about doing that too.
What spiritual, social or other abstract concepts do you struggle with teaching your Exceptional Children? There are also questions that will come up on the problems of war, homelessness, violence. What tools or words would you use to explain this to your children? Simplifying things is a good place to start, and from my own experience, give them time to come around to new concepts, explanations and to ask questions. These are all very important concepts of growing up, and growing towards something for any child. Until next time.