“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl. 3:11a NIV)
My two adult sons still live with me. Both of them have Autism and other mental disabilities. My oldest boy works a few days a week at a local sheltered workshop. His younger brother, however, isn’t as high functioning. He speaks only a few words and stays home with me full time so my daughter and I can care for him.
The other day I was walking into a fast food restaurant holding his finger so we could go to the rest room before getting something to eat. As we walked by a teenage boy I could see him staring at my youngest son. He quickly looked away either because he was uncomfortable or because he didn’t want to embarrass us. I wasn’t mad at him. Many people have done the same thing over the years. I only wished that they could see what I see when I look at my sons. I only wish that they could see behind the disguise.
You see, I have come to know that both of my sons are far brighter and more beautiful souls than I am. I have been blessed to be able to care for them, to love them, and to learn from them all these years. I am sure that both of them volunteered to come to this world as mentally challenged to help teach us all how to love more deeply and unconditionally.
I have been my sons’ student as well as teacher in this life. As their father I did my best to teach them how to learn and do things with their limited intellectual abilities. And they did their best to show me how to laugh more freely, love more openly, and have joy more easily. When my sons laugh it sounds like Heaven’s music. When they love it is with the innocence of a child and the beauty of an angel. They live much closer to the light of God than I do. And I am honored to have been able to care for them and learn from them for all of these years.
When you see the mentally challenged in this world then don’t just look with your eyes. Look with your heart. See beyond their earthly disguise to their Heavenly soul. Let the light inside them brighten your own light as well. Let the love they share help you to share your own love too. They truly are God’s angels in disguise.
Joseph J. Mazzella