As usual, a scripture from worship this morning inspired my writing today. Whether you are a believer or not – you’ll get this post, so please just hang in there with me.
Genesis 1:3-5 (why not start at the beginning, eh?): And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good,and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
I sat there thinking about day and night, about dark and light, and evening and morning. Then I felt a wave of thankfulness come over me.
Why? For two reasons.
First, because every morning I get to start over. I get a do-over. A do-over as a mom, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend – every day I get to begin again. Every day I get the opportunity to move forward – to get better. This is not just about autism – but about being human. We don’t always get it right.
- There are times where I’m staring at my computer and I tell one of my children to hold on…sending the message that whatever is on my screen is more important than them. Not true.
- There are times when we have cereal for supper…sending the message that I don’t have the time or energy to muster up something better. Not true (well..that may be true…but I could probably dig a little deeper for some leftover energy).
- There are times that I don’t call my mom or dad back right away…sending the message that they are not important. Not true.
- There are times when I reply to a student with a less than stellar tone…sending the message that I am irritated with them. Not true.
- There are times when I silence a friend’s phone call…sending the message that I don’t care. Not true.
But, the next day? I get to start over, tabula rasa. I get to try again.
Second, it’s the nature of the dark and light. Most of us (bless you third shift folks, I don’t know how you do it) sleep during the night and wake during the day. We need both – day and night, light and dark.
One of the pieces of advice I most often give my students is to be thankful if they receive a F. Yes, I encourage them to be thankful for failure. Now they have somewhere to go – and they can only go up from there. They failed…and that’s fine. All of us fail – the true test of a person is getting back up, is keeping on, is trying again – that is what makes us who we are.
Anyone can be awesome when life is going your way.
I tell them that without failure, there cannot be success. As they look at me with bewildered eyes I ask them, “How do you know what it feels like to be happy?”
They usually respond with, ‘It feels good’ or ‘I smile’ or ‘I feel calm.’
I ask again, “That didn’t answer my question. That answer is a result of happiness. How do you know what it feel like to be happy?”
They look again, bewildered – usually with nothing to say.
I say to them, “It’s because you have felt sadness.” We must learn to embrace the darker side of life, because the dark makes the light that much lighter.
We know joy, because we have experienced the pain of anger.
We know calm, because we have experienced the anxiety of busy.
We know happy, because we have experienced the tears of sadness.
We know health, because we have experienced the feeling of sickness.
We know peace, because we have experienced the uncertainty of conflict.
This is the very reason I have made peace with autism. This is the very reason I claim to be ‘thankful’ for autism. It makes my light that much better.
I have been in the darkness of nonverbal – which is why I never quiet him. It’s why his voice still sounds like 10,000 angels.
I have been in the darkness of sensory overload – which is why I treasure the moments he can walk through Wal-Mart.
I have been in the darkness of speech therapy – which is why every clear f, l, t, and d makes me smile.
I have been in the darkness of social anxieties – which is why the sentence ‘My friend…’ makes my heart jump.
I have been in the darkness of occupational therapy – which is why I still put his LEGIBLE work on the refrigerator.
I have been in the darkness of oral sensitivities – which is why eating the crust on a piece of toast is insanely satisfying (even if it’s one time out of 20).
I have been in the darkness of painful, chronic constipation – which is why a turd makes me happy. Go ahead and laugh – it’s why I saved that for last.
There have been so many darknesses. But for every darkness – the light follows. Sometimes the light takes a day to come; sometimes it takes a year – but it always arrives. Just like morning.
The brightness of morning – the light that chases away darkness.
The very light that gives me a do-over.
So, that’s why I am thankful.
Thankful for the dark.
For without it, I could not appreciate the light