I had an epiphany a few years back; by learning to have a deeper relationship with my son Eric, who does not use words to communicate, I am healing parts of myself. Until then, I thought it was the other way around; that I was healing him. This experience offered me a new and broader awareness too: We are here on Earth to help one another. And the special-needs population, who appear to have the least power in society, can in fact have profound impact on our growth.
Years ago, I had an Ayurvedic Birth Blueprint charted of my personality type. It revealed rather strong movement in all areas of my personal life (physical health, desire, dharma--i.e. life purpose, career, creative play, relationships, vital body, and spiritual body) except for one, relationships. That did not come as a surprise; relationships have been the most challenging area of my life. And the irony was, at that moment I was learning to have a deep relationship with someone who does not use words--challenging indeed, but especially to me, who had this personality type to begin with. It became increasingly clear that, as I learned to relate to Eric in this deeper way, I could then transfer my insights to others, not merely to the special- needs population. Doing this takes time, patience, and awareness.
Years ago my teacher, Yogi Mukunda, said something clearly profound and simple: “After all, we are all a little handicapped.” I thought about it for a very long time; great truth is often found in simplicity. And I wondered what my disability was.
God created us all whole and perfect; it is the part of us that needs healing that does not allow this wholeness to shine through. What was I not allowing to shine through? Then, as by lightning, in a moment of clarity, I became conscious of my own disability: I was relationship challenged. And it dawned upon me that those who can only see the physical disability of a person, not their essence or spirit, are all spiritually handicapped. We are handicapped until we remember who we really are.
A deeper relationship with a special-needs person requires an understanding that what you see with your eyes is only a small part of who they really are. If I said to you, “Picture an island,” you might only see palm trees and sand; but there would be so much more to that island then you could see with your eyes--a whole land mass for example, under water. So too with these kids, there is the unseen, the spirit inside their physical bodies. Seeing them this way will bring greater insight, not only to you but to them as well. Everyone who comes in contact with you is being given an opportunity to grow, too. It is not for us to change anybody, but through our vision alone, things can change by themselves.
A few years back, I brought Eric to a doctor with whom we were not familiar. He was obviously afraid when that Eric grabbed him. I could understand it; Eric is a big fellow. The doctor also spoke in front of him as if he was not there. If I had not been so exhausted from lack of sleep, I could have had the energy to say, “I wonder how Eric feels that we are taking about him in front of him,” and that might have brought some insight to this doctor. I do not feel, you understand, that I have to fix the world--but I do feel the need to show Eric the respect he deserves. I also could have modeled for the doctor how one interacts with a nonverbal person by saying, “Eric, did you hear what the doctor said? He said the rash will go away soon on its own.” Sometimes we become aware of things we could have said or done only after the fact.
We have a choice about how to view people who present themselves differently. Eric can be seen as the doctor did, as someone who is in a wheelchair. Having the vision to see what lies beneath the surface of his island, though, makes it obvious that he is a very witty person who loves to laugh, tease, and have fun. He then can be seen as a unique entity who wants to be cared about. But it takes another kind of vision to see this. You cannot simply use your eyes; you need to know that there is an entire land mass underneath, and look with your heart to find it. Eric is teaching me; other special-needs children can also teach you, if you choose to see. We come to Earth not only for ourselves but for others. They are teaching us to slow down and pay attention, to see with our hearts. We have come to each other’s lives to be partners; and now I can see the total island with my heart, and not just the surface.