Tuesday, April 1, 2008

the true story of a small miracle

We've been blessed with good neighbours.

On one side, most weekends you can see Paul up on the roof painting, laying guttering, clearing leaves, and dispensing good advice to his less home-maintenance-savvy neighbours. Every now and again his grandson pops his head over the fence, and shares dreams of wild adventure with our kids.

On the other side, in a gingerbread-brown house with white edging, live David and Lisa with their two sons, Alan and Ian, the same age as our middle two boys. Lisa and I have become friends, and I can talk quite openly with her about my faith: we meet for coffee, we chat on the phone, and our younger sons went to play gym together.

David and Lisa's older son Alan is autistic. Although he's at the milder end of the spectrum, he goes to a school for autistic children, and Lisa devotes hours to teaching him. We've invited Alan over to play with Ben - they are both passionate about mathematics, after all - but it's been difficult for them to form a connection.

A month ago Ben was paired up to do maths at school with an autistic boy called Alan. The teacher knew they both loved maths, and wanted to increase Ben's confidence by entrusting him with Alan's care. Knowing that the boy next door doesn't go to our children's school, I was pleased for Ben, but thought nothing of it.

Earlier this year, in a moment of irrational generosity, I agreed to help with the Red Cross Appeal. Two weeks ago we were asking for donations at local houses. When we reached our neighbours' house, I asked if Alan could possibly be going to our children's school. "No, he goes to a school for autistic children," David answered.

We continued our hot and sweaty walk around the court, knocking on doors and receiving no response, when a voice called from behind me: "Jean! Wait! Alan does go to the local school twice a week! Is that the school your children go to?"

You can guess the rest: even though his teacher didn't know they were neighbours, she paired Ben to work with the boy next door.

What happened next was so lovely, it took my breath away. Alan, who finds it difficult to form friendships, came out of his front door and tried to cross the court to get to Ben. Although he struggles to make eye-contact, he was glancing up at Ben, smiling a slight smile.

Our school was the last one David and Lisa tried, since it didn't claim to have an integration program - but it turned out to be the only local school interested in welcoming Alan. He will probably be in Ben's class full-time next year, and his brother Ian may well be in Thomas' prep class.

How wonderful our God is! How he weaves the circumstances of our lives, small happenings as well as large, and links us with other people for their blessing and ours! He knew where we would live, he knew who our neighbours would be, he knew how the details of our lives would mesh together.

How grateful I am for the small miracles which scatter our lives.

Names have been changed in this post.


Nicole said...

Praise God!

Emma P said...

This made me cry Jean. Alan is being blessed richly by God through your family.
It reminds me of Shaun - over the years, we have seen God looking after him, putting particular people in his path to support, encourage and teach him.