To Infinity and Beyond

Did you read the story of the father and his autistic son who were stranded in the ocean for 12 hours, and communicated by a call and response of phrases from the boy’s favorite Disney movies?

Here’s a link to the story, which I loved:

Anyway, the boy has very little verbal communication due to his autism, but found the extended stay in the warm waters off Florida exhilarating.

Yet what struck me in the story was the intimacy of the relationship between father and son and how the father knew what the son would respond to — because he KNOWS him and is used to spending time with him.  The father would shout, “To infinity” and the boy, a Toy Story fan, would respond “and beyond!”  Until they drifted far enough apart that the father could no longer hear him — and feared that he was dead.

I was thinking about a friend telling me recently that as her mother lay dying in her home, she became aware of the nuances and intricacies of her bodily changes, of her breathing, of every little sound… and felt the need and desire to make the world right (as right as it could be) for her mother’s last days in her final earthly home, to protect her.  Their intimacy made that possible — and desirable to her.

And mothers know that feeling… especially with a new baby.  Fears (often while pregnant) that we won’t be able to figure out this child yield to near-complete knowledge of this little creation!  I remember telling babysitters that they would know when one of my daughters was sleepy because she would put three fingers in her mouth backwards (palm up) and begin making a sound like “rolling r’s.”  We just know.

Richard Rohr talks about “sacred space” and those times when we are disrupted or rearranged by something monumental and become more open to God’s voice and movement.  He talks about the death of one’s parent in relation to that. New motherhood was that for me — when all the rest of the world faded away and I wondered how anyone could possibly want the television on when I could stare at my daughter contentedly forever.

So all of this got me reflecting on those connections we have with our nearest and dearest folks.  How we know when they tilt their head just so that they need their reading glasses.  Or that when they take the stairs two at a time there is good news.  Or when they are listening to classical music instead of Afro-Peruvian, that it’s been an overwhelming day.  Or that talking to them about art will be the key to saying “I’m interested.”

And that leaves me with two thoughts:

We miss all that if our relationships are conducted online or by txt msg.

And how much more is God aware of all our little nuances and tics and thoughts and half-thoughts.

We’re equipped, but we often forget it, for what Jesus tells us are the two greatest commandments — loving God and loving each other.  What else is there?


~ by Cary on September 11, 2008.

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