Friday, October 30, 2009


Last night, I stood in the kids' room, holding a sleepy Sasha on my shoulder, thinking about all the stuff I had to do before the big room switch on Saturday. My eyes came to rest on the crib and then the quilted wall hanging above it. Log cabin pattern. Bright blues and yellows. Seeing it made me start to cry.

The wall hanging was a gift to us from our church in North Carolina on the occasion of Martin's birth. This was a little church and only recently started. Babies were a big deal. In fact, Martin was only the second baby born into the community. The first had arrived just six weeks earlier. For that little church, having babies seemed like another thing that made us a real community. It demanded the delivery of casseroles to sleepy parents. It required a nursery with toys and church members to hold babies so mothers could get a moment's peace.

That wall hanging, though, reminds me that this little church community was already the real deal to me. Martin just got subsumed into it. My husband and I ate an impromptu dinner with some of those church folks almost every Friday night for several years. They were the first people we told when I found out I was pregnant. Martin was born on a Friday afternoon. Church folks were there a few hours later, bearing frozen custard and ready to marvel at the cone-headed little human who had just arrived. Martin went to church when he was two days old.

We left North Carolina so I could finish my Ph.D. and get a job. I like a lot of things about our life here in Wooster. I have a nice job, a home we're happy in, and a good community. But I miss the folks in NC in the moments where Martin's autism hurts the most. They knew him and loved him from the beginning. They were a community willing to try new things, usually shirking formality. Their openness to others proved itself in its gathering of students, people without permanent homes, professors, prison inmates, health care workers, and anybody else that wanted to come by.

I have this feeling that if we still lived there, those folks would not only tolerate Martin's goofiness, they'd see it as a potential gift to the church. They'd figure out a way to use his massive memory or his strange fashion sense as a way to express God's love. And while this would always be unspoken, I think they'd also see Martin's difficulties as a gift to the rest of them. A gift that offered them the chance to reach out to those with problems. A gift that let them interact with yet another strange and beautiful - yet struggling - person on this planet.


  1. Jen, would you mind if I used this in my sermon on Sunday?

  2. I have a feeling that CHMF has a G-V family sized hole in their heart!

  3. We miss all of you too, Jen. A whole lot! Come "home" anytime--you'll be shocked at the ever-increasing youth contingent taking over the place. As a charter baby, Martin started quite a trend.

  4. Jen, we miss you and Stacy and Martin and Sasha! Thanks for sharing your lives with us over the blogosphere.