What’s New in October 2023
Dear God, Give Me a Sign!
By Jinnae Anderson
At first we could only see his back, but something seemed strange as the elderly man smoothed out and re-arranged the San Francisco T-shirts on their hangers. Adding to the puzzle, the man didn’t acknowledge or greet us, but instead walked to the refrigerator magnets and began to feel them with his hands. When he found an empty space, he moved the magnets to fill it in.
Realization was just dawning on me when our son Joseph called out, “Excuse me. How much are your water bottles?” Immediately the man came over and took care of our request. As he was working the register, Joe held out the money. The man did nothing, so Joe dropped the bills onto the counter.
Then the man held out his hand for the money. There was a hiccup of hesitation on our side. I quickly recovered by picking up the bills and placing them directly into his hand. He asked, “How much is this?” I told him. He gave us change, and we walked away.
When we were out of earshot, I asked Joe, “Did you notice something unusual about that man?”
Joe had not noticed the novel fact that a blind man was working that booth all by himself.
Our day in San Francisco continued with long walks and sea lions and ice cream and a bay cruise. Tired, toward evening we made our way to BART, the subway that would take us to our neighborhood.
It was a Saturday. The train was quiet and uncrowded. But as it approached our stop, a young man stormed into our car, looking angry, upset, and terribly impatient. He stopped suddenly, waiting for the doors to open, hands balled up in fists, eyes looking fierce. When we all exited, he turned to Joe and mumbled something. Joe called us over and said, “This man wants to talk to us.” I looked at the poor guy, listened to him mumble, said, “We’re going to head off,” and quickly steered Joe away. Both my husband and I had noted this man and his unusual behavior. I’d chalked it up to either mental health issues or drugs, but either way, my inner red flags were waving hard.
Once again, the conversation ensued with Joe about what we’d seen that he did not see, the signals we’d picked up that had passed him by.
Joe is so competent now in so many ways. Sometimes I fall into the illusion of thinking he’s no longer autistic–until once again it becomes obvious. In four short months he’ll be leaving the safety of home and his ever-watchful parents, to make his way without us.
Oh baby, baby, it’s a wild world.
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile.
What if a nice-looking woman shows up at his door or on his computer screen, wanting to “get to know” him? What if he’s enticed somewhere dark and evil, and he’s taken advantage of? What if he’s sexually trafficked or sexually harassed by a stranger or even someone in the program? What if he doesn’t see the signs to avoid any of those horrible things?
“What if?” screams my mind. “WHAT THE **!!*’9@% IF???”
Love or fear, Yoga Mother. There are only two choices: love or fear.
Breathe. All the way to the belly. Come back to the present. Pull the mind away from that hellish place into THIS moment, where none of that is happening. Again, I come to two choices: projecting fear or extending love.
And then the quiet voice of my soul whispers, “What if?” “What if we look to Joseph’s future with wonder? With innocence and curiosity? With expectations of a life made up of loving relationships, meaningful work, and overall happiness?”
“But that rarely happens for people with autism,” argues my mind. “Look at the stats!”
Then I am gently reminded of these questions from A Course of Love:
Do I really need to worry about this situation, or can I affect this situation simply by not worrying about it and allowing it to be and unfold as it will? While I realize that the facts would tell me this or that is true, I wonder what would happen if I disregarded the facts and was open to this being something else? D:14.5
Oh, Jesus. Literally oh, Jesus. Once again, I see my life mirrored in Joe’s. Do I ignore the signs from my soul, from God Him/Herself, and live instead in an insane world of fear and illusion? Or do I pay attention to the still, small voice within to remember that there is so much more going on than how it looks? That miracles happen? That life gives each of us our own individually-designed, perfect curriculum?
I choose inner stillness, a so-close relationship with God that I see the signs I am constantly given. And I choose love. I choose positive expectations. I choose radical trust. And in this trust I allow my life, and Joseph’s life, to unfold as it will.
And so it is.
Jinnae Anderson focuses on approaching every moment—especially the challenging ones—as a wondrous opportunity to awaken. She has studied and co-facilitated ACOL for many years, and she has a passion to teach and to write. She can be reached at email@example.com.