It has been a long week, preceded by many long weeks of planning, preparation and tedious work. It is with thanksgiving that I share these thoughts at the conclusion of the Parish of the Ascension’s biannual outreach project, which this year was Racing with the Reverend – Take 2. Of course this is not the complete conclusion, major outreach projects such as these require the various hours of reflections and meetings, followed by a team debrief/celebration, not to mention the cheque presentation to the Autism Society and the writing of many many reports and charitable tax receipts.
When people participate in an endeavour such as this, I believe that there are times that prove disappointing to those involved. Persons feel that their lives may not be as exciting, and that perhaps all the good work that is completed in relation to the project stands as an unobtainable reality for persons in the reality of their daily lives.
It is true, things must come to an end. We cannot drive racecars each and every day. Nevertheless, the endings we experience must point and follow to a deeper reality. We are compelled to be transformed by this encounter, and not be the typical markers of success.
I am reminded by the works and words of C. S. Lewis about the endings of journeys. In the Last Battle, the seventh of the Chronicles of Narnia, many of the characters are forced unwillingly through a stable door. This is a portal to a new reality, a new dimension. Some choose not to believe this reality, and are blind to the beauty and opportunity within. The dwarves are such as these, thinking they are stuck in the confines of a small stable in the dark. Most of the others who enter through the stable door encounter Aslan; their lives are transformed, and they experience a deeper, broader reality. One such character exclaims, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew till now. . . Come further up, come further in!”
The sum of all our endings cannot be stagnant. From this experience I have been transformed. We have been transformed. I have seen team members grow from wary to embracing in conversations of care and faith. I have seen other teams realize that people of faith can be instrumental and integral in the world. I have been transformed and enabled by the many individuals and families facing autism and ASD.
At the finish line we celebrated with our families, our team, and our new friends. I encountered old friends who raced with us last time. I encountered families of those with autism. In the midst of all this, I believe that the sum of this ending will compel myself and others to take steps closer to our Creator, closer to each other, and closer to those who are vulnerable due to autism/ASD and who need our presence as much as we are made whole by their presence in our lives.