We have one of the most awesome vacation Bible schools I’ve ever seen and I’ve been around. It has nothing to do with me. I’m just here and all these gifted people create this event that takes place during the mornings of a week in summer. It feels like a full blown camp, what with all the arts, music, drama and the rest. The kids are enthralled, something I was not when I was younger.
When I talk about terror of VBS I am not talking about my terror as a young person. You could say that I was terrified I would be bored to death, have to go to the craft room and make one more pot holder, sit through a coma-inducing lesson around long tables in the heat of summer with fans blowing on us. God no.
But that is not the terror I have in mind. Know that Broadway Christian Church has one of the premier programs to include children with disabilities in the life of the church. It’s called All God’s Children. This particularly includes young people on the autistic spectrum. We do that well.
So on the first day of VBS when the organized chaos of registering was followed by the very stimulating opening a familiar face appeared with his aid – one of the boys who participates in All God’s Children. He is blind and is on the autistic spectrum. He needs one-on-one para attention. And he sat on a bench surrounded by all this activity and noise and wept. He was terrified.
We don’t normally affiliate church with terror, though it has been a place of terror for some for different reasons. Some have been abused there. Some have felt rejection there. Some learned how to hate others there. For now we’ll pretend those are the exceptions.
But this young man, surrounded by people who actually are skilled in assisting him, providing cues and focus, was flying blind in a storm. And those of us who sat with him felt a shadow of the helplessness that he did. That’s when the thick isolation of his condition fell out of the sky and broke in pieces around me. What is it like to live in that world, his world, when what should be joyful is terrifying?
We all have limits as to what we can do, offer and help. We do our best. Sometimes no amount of skill or knowledge or training can take the worst away. We can minimize it, to be sure and that makes a difference. But ever so often all we bring is love and empty hands. Surely, Oh God, that is enough. It has to be. And today, right now, I will believe that.