As the year 2011 winds to a close I find myself lost in a deep space of reflection. I have been blessed with the gift of spending the next ten days with the son of two dear friends while they take a well-earned vacation. My “home” for the duration is an extremely peaceful abode surrounded by giant redwood trees. It is the perfect finish to a very busy year that culminated with the earning of my M.F.A. in documentary photography.
John is a beautiful soul who happens to be non-verbal in the traditional sense and was given the label of “autistic” based on our society’s need to categorize those who are different from what is deemed to be “normal.” His communications and interaction with his world come in the form of a variety of whistles and deeply toned, sing-song like sounds most often accompanied by some hand or body movement. He has moments of great eye contact that tend to pierce right through to the core as if he is sharing every thought in his mind through his intense gaze. At times I feel that if I can hold that gaze for just one more moment, some magic gate will be opened and I will be able to walk right through and understand every word he cannot say.
This evening after dinner, he took a seat on one of the couches in the family room, then proceeded to cross his legs and place his hands on his knees in a very meditative pose. He stared out at the grove of giant redwoods behind the house as the sun began to set and he softly, calmly, began what I can only describe as a deep chant that was as equally hypnotizing as the most revered Buddhist monk. The golden light from the sunset lit his face in a surreal way. The melodic tone of his voice found me even more grounded than I already am and I felt for a time as if I was bearing witness to something completely outside of this world. He continued for about five minutes then slowly, deliberately, turned his eyes towards mine and held me there in that quiet space until tears began to run down my cheeks.
The blessings in this life are many. Sometimes they come to us in unexpected ways and are there for us to see as long as we choose to open our eyes to them. My hope for each and every being on this earth for the new year is for great healing, deep peace and the end of suffering. And may you each recognize your blessings and embrace them as they reveal themselves in the moment.
Namaste & Happy New Year to all!