“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
It was a cold afternoon in Winter. The temperature hadn’t gotten above freezing all day long. The wind was blowing and the clouds were overcast. I was driving home. I looked out on the cold, gray day full of mid-winter’s gloom but it didn’t bother me at all, because I was carrying a lot of light and warmth in the car with me. A spontaneous shower of laughter erupted in the seat behind me. That would be my 29 year old son, Casey. In the seat next to me my name sake, his 34 year old brother JJ joined in the laughter as well. Both of my sons have struggled with Autism and mental handicaps all of their lives. Yet, while this limited them intellectually, spiritually they were on a level far above my own.
Casey possessed a smile, a laughter, and a joy that were contagious. I sometimes thought he could see the angels all around us that I couldn’t. JJ knew more people by name than I did. He was always ready as well to share a smile, a friendly greeting, a gentle laugh, and a spirit full of love and good-cheer. Both of them seemed to have a oneness with God that all of us “normal” people found much harder to achieve.
I had to admit too that at times I’d been jealous of my boys and their closer connection to Heaven. I’d even wished more than once that I could trade places with them. In the end, however, I loved them, embraced them, thanked God for them, and realized that both of them were my greatest teachers in how to live and how to love.
When it comes to gaining a closer connection to Heaven we all can take a lesson from our “Special” teachers. They may not be able to explain it in words but they always show it in their lives. They do so day by day, moment by moment, and choice by choice. They share their love freely, purely, and unconditionally as God asks. May we all do the same.
Joseph J. Mazzella