Today in church there was a special blessing. My daughter, her teachers and classmates who make up the Special Needs Faith Class would receive a blessing along with their families. This is an important day as it shows the community that those with special needs are really present in our everyday lives, even if we don’t realize it. It was also very early in the school year, so in a sense it was a way for people to celebrate the beginning of the new year. It’s important for the community to recognize this.
Where the web is concerned I’ve always been protective of Mija. I admit that. She’s a vulnerable person. This is the first time I’ve ever written about this subject. There are a lot of reasons for that. Suffice to say for now that I felt this was important.
When we entered the church she sat quietly next to us. A few minutes after the entrance song we were called to the front with other families. The celebrant said, “They are special because they remind us by their love that we are to be loved, and that we are the ones who are in need of that love.” I had never quite heard it that way but I agreed with that statement. He later stated he was once a teacher of special needs children, and spoke of the impact they had on his life.
Many special needs people who have cognitive challenges live in the here and now. They don’t understand the concept of “later.” When Mija wants something, she does understand the words “Please wait.” It’s once of the few phrases that she speaks. Still, for the most part, she expects us to drop what we’re doing to take care of her needs. When I’m tired this is particularly challenging. It is an exercise in patience and humility. I’m reminded of this every day.
With many special needs people “what you see is what you get,” meaning they don’t pretend about how they feel. When they are happy you will know it. When they are sad or angry you will know it. They don’t mask or pretend. When you hear “Blessed are the pure of heart…” there is no greater demonstration of this than the special needs kids in Mija’s class. They show you who they are at their very core. It’s very profound because you find that you must rise up and respond in kind.
Someone once told me that everyone has a special need as we all lack something in our lives.
After the blessing the children and teachers returned to their classroom. We were very proud of Mija. This was the best she had ever done in church. Other times she was restless or impatient. This time she enjoyed looking around at everyone.
There are many stories to share but for now this is a start. I’m grateful to the teachers and families of this special little community for all their support. We are truly blest.