Archive for April 2020

A Tale of One   Leave a comment

Last week, I spent some time outside at 2:30 in the morning watching the Lyrid meteor shower with my son.  I’m always of two minds about missing sleep, but I love seeing the stars and shooting stars, so we agreed to stumble outside in the middle of night, because it was supposed to be the peak and good viewing.

Getting ourselves wrapped up in a couple blankets, we lay on the ground looking up and to the southeast where they were supposed to be.  We found we were whispering.  Were we trying to hide from the immensity of night and how space makes you feel?  We got an early meteor, very bright, and then lay there in the chill waiting for something else.

That was our first meteor, but meteors are the only thing we experienced more than one of.

A neighbor out really late was talking up the hill from us.  So one neighbor.

Pretty soon after we got outside, I saw a flittering shadow above me and heard high pitched squeaking noises.  One bat.

Our cat, Simba, came around after a while and walked up and down on us while purring in a pleased manner.  One cat.

Someone’s dog began to bark, and I have to confess, this doesn’t fit in the title, because other dogs started barking as well.  But toward the end of the group bark, it was just one dog.

Also, the entire time we were out, we could hear one spring peeper.  If you have any experience with these little frogs, you know that they are always in large groups, and they are very loud.  However, down near our pond, we heard it.  One spring peeper.

We didn’t talk much, but there is a companionship when a couple people watch for shooting stars that doesn’t require conversation.

One more bond between my son and me.

Posted April 29, 2020 by swanatbagend in animal life, seeing

Tagged with , ,

How Fully?   Leave a comment

Like most of you, I’ve heard before that you should appreciate each day and savor each moment.  Live life to the fullest, follow your dreams or your calling, thank God for every moment, and stay in the present.

I think that’s good advice but only to a point.

The problem I have run into is that it’s not possible to do.

Of course I have a tendency to take things literally, but it seems to me that’s exactly what “live fully” means.  Live fully.  In each moment.  Savor life.

I don’t know about you, but life itself prevents me from following this rule.  There are many times of doubt, fear, concern, and worry.  There are tasks that must be done.  There are routine times when you’re doing everything you can to follow the rule, but you know you’re not staying in the present and living fully.

For some people (me among them or I wouldn’t be writing this blog) that is setting a standard that is too high–impossible in fact–which just leads to guilt and shame.  I don’t want to waste the life God’s given me or the opportunities at hand.  I would love to stay in the present and do this live fully thing.  But the reality is that I can’t.  I do sometimes.  But I don’t do it all the time.

Bottom line is it’s not up to us.  God knows our frame.  Yes, we are personally accountable for our actions.  I get that.  But as with so much else, our living fully is entirely in his hands.  Thus, there is no shame or guilt for not doing it “right.”

Not broken, but different–published on the Mighty   Leave a comment

Despite all the talk about communication difficulties for people with autism, I’ve often noted that my family and I communicate just fine with each other.  Also, when I find a kindred spirit, no problem.

Autism is certainly not a mental disability.  It’s not an inability to think well or love well or work well.  Is it possible that the difference in the way people with autism communicate isn’t a problem to be fixed?

The below article describes a research project in Scotland that shows that people with autism communicate well with each other.  It turns out that, in a sense, those with autism have their own language.  For them, communicating with those who aren’t on the spectrum is like speaking another language.  So, it appears that for those who aren’t on the spectrum, communicating with autistics could be as simple as learning another language.

The second link is from the project website itself, where you can learn more.

Diversity in Social Intelligence

Imagine if you’d been told there was something wrong with the way you interacted with other humans for much of your life.  People with autism have been told that we need to work on our social skills, or that we’re weird.  We’ve noted that we are on the fringes of groups because we may not prefer to engage in small talk.

Maybe that isn’t that odd; maybe it’s not as different as you think it is.  Maybe it’s just people communicating in a different language that you don’t understand yet.

So, while it continues to be necessary for people with autism to learn how neurotypical people communicate, in order for them to manage life in the neurotypical culture, autistic communication is not inherently dysfunctional.

It’s just different.

Posted April 15, 2020 by swanatbagend in autism, relationships

Be Strong   Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I would never choose to be someone with weaknesses.  Like most people, I have spent a great deal of effort to do things well.  I always assumed that I would be able to do all the things I planned when I was twenty years old.  I thought that strength was something that the blessed always had.

But what I have found is something quite different.  Despite my best efforts to be strong, I have found myself to be weak.

I don’t have the energy and ability to do all the things I thought I would do.  I have had to learn to approach each new thing from a place of weakness.

Something I learned recently has been helpful.  “Be strong” doesn’t mean that you just are strong.  It doesn’t mean you’ve made yourself be strong.  And it doesn’t mean that you have to work hard to somehow get to that fever pitch of strongness that will see you through whatever your challenge is.  Apparently when this phrase is used in the New Testament, the meaning is, “because you are being made strong.”  This truth makes a verse that I have always tried–and failed–to live up to, make a lot more sense.

What I am living now is the reality that “be strong” means I’m being made strong.  That by definition means that I’m starting out the opposite.  I am starting from a place of being unable to live strong.  I’m starting from a place of weakness, a place in which despite my best efforts, I cannot do the things I need to do on my own.  Everything that I do in a given day is because I’m being given the strength to do it.  There is no way on my own I could summon up what I need.  It does take courage to keep doing the next thing when it seems too hard to do.  However, I suspect that courage is also a gift.

I can’t help but wish that I would experience the opposite situation, where I hope to be able to just live my life without thinking about where my strength comes from.

On the other hand, it’s not a bad thing to know where your strength actually comes from.

Posted April 2, 2020 by swanatbagend in reflections

Tagged with , , ,