At a fund-raising dinner for a Brooklyn school that caters to learning-disabled children, the father of one child was expected to give a speech extolling the dedicated staff's work. Instead his opening remarks shocked the crowd of parents and teachers. He cried out: "My son goes to this school, which teaches that everything God does is done with perfection. But where is the perfection in my son Shaya? My child cannot understand things as other children do. So tell me, where is God's perfection?"
The audience, shocked by the man's anguished question, hushed. A few people coughed nervously as the father continued: "I believe that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection He seeks is in the way people react." The father then told about the afternoon he and Shaya walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, "Do you think they will let me play?"
The father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. Nevertheless, Shaya's father understood that if his son were to be chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. So the father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play.
The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands. "We're losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning," he told the father. "I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning." Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. A team member told Shaya to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again and now, with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was up to bat.
Would the team actually take a chance on Shaya to bat home the winning run? Everyone knew it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.
Yet as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's teammates came up to Shaya so together they could hold the bat and face the pitcher.
Again the pitcher took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shaya, run to first! Run to first!"
Never in his life had Shaya run to first. So now he scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Everyone yelled: "Run to second! Run to second!" Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. Just as Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, "Run to third." As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming: "Shaya, run home!" Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate, and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders. They made Shaya their hero, as he had just hit a grand slam and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of God's perfection."
Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
Isn’t this story just so wonderful? It really was a moment of God’s perfection and it still is when I read this.
I believe that all these kids, whether they are autistic, have Down Syndrome, are severely handicapped or have other major learning or behavioural disabilities: I believe that all these kids are little angels, sent down to earth to teach us a big lesson.
My little sister has a major learning disability. She has been going to special schools all her life, has always suffered from being segregated and labelled as something she feels she is not: different. She faces rejection on a daily basis and yet she is the wisest and most loving soul you can possibly meet. There is nothing bad inside of her. She is absolutely pure. She is vulnerable, she loves everyone without any judgements. The truth is: She came into this world not to learn anything. She came into our lives to teach us one of the biggest lessons we can possibly learn: she gave us the gift of experiencing unconditional love. She is my little angel and always will be.
This blog is devoted to all the other little angels out there and to all those of you who have little angels in your lives. May God’s Perfection be seen in your lives as well!