The inner spiritual life of an ambulance blesser

There’s been a story recently in the news about a boy with an intellectual disability who was denied first communion on the grounds that his priest did not believe the boy had “sufficient knowledge” of Christ, a requirement for first communion. In trying to think back to my own first communion, I can’t recall that I had “sufficient knowledge” of anything besides a really fancy white dress and shoes that I was going to be allowed to wear. Does any seven-year old?

Religion seems too big a topic to address here, so I won’t. This whole incident simply made me simply wonder about the inner spiritual life of my son, who is close in age to this boy and has intellectual delays as well. Even if we aren’t a real “organized religion” sort of family, I still want to instill him with a moral compass, a sense of compassion and a deep connection with the world.

Something happened recently that reminded me that I need not worry.

Like many kids, my son has trouble shutting out ambient sounds in his environment—but his filter is really non-existent. Combine this with a love of vehicles, and every train whistle, car alarm, back-up truck beep and fire truck siren must be commented on, regardless of what else is going on in the moment.

Recently he pointed out that several ambulances were going by as we walked in our busy neighborhood. I usually tune them out like all jaded city-dwellers, but they were loud and it was a little more intense than normal. He looked nervous so I tried to re-assure him by saying that I hoped that everyone was safe and OK. Imagine my surprise when I realized that he had created a very real and steady practice of pointing out every subsequent ambulance siren to me with the words, “Hope everyone is OK.” I had stopped hearing ambulances long ago, but here he was blessing each and every one and reminding me to join him. Is more “sufficient knowledge” than this required?

Published by Cristin Lind

Facilitator, consultant, speaker for better health and care through patient-professional partnership. Passionate about helping change agents build courage and agency. She/her.

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1 Comment

  1. For me it’s about the strong suits and not-so-strong suits.
    We all have them.

    Whether I choose them or they choose me, I definitely have strong suits.
    These are the things that I will not negotiate with my partner or my kids.
    (BTW… I am fortunate to have a partner in this journey.)

    My strong suits are not what I do enjoy doing pre sa… rather what I won’t let go of.
    Example: Folding the laundry. Not getting into the washing machine and then the dryer…
    but folding it. Crisply folding- being careful to flatten out any turned up edges or hems, succinctly matching socks and turning down the top edges just slightly into a pair, and hanging items onto hangers.

    Admittedly then hanging hung clothes in some of order in the closet. Starting on the left, jackets, sweaters, and sweatshirts, then dresses, then tops. In the dresser drawers— every item has a place, tops, bottoms, sports bras/underwear, pajamas and those neatly matched socks. Not extreme but certainly methodical.

    For me it makes it easier to then grab them in a rush and if I should ever not be home… another can easily find clean crisply folded or hung options with ease.
    The origin behind this strong suit is because of a few traumas I have suffered in the past.

    Like the time my partner showed up to the hospital to visit me, kids in tow and they all were a wrinkled mismatched hot mess. I couldn’t even appreciate the flowers they brought, the fact they did all shower, ate breakfast, made it in-and-out of stop&shop for the bouquet, and arrived at the hospital and no one was crying or whining! All I could see was their dis-shoveled apparel. OMG … I cried. They thought I was happy to see them. In fact I wanted them to leave… immediately before my lovely nurse saw them.

    From that point on…I had a new strong suit. As far as me and my house goes …we will have neat and matched clothes! I read a book once for new parents raising children with disabilities and the author opined… (paraphrased) you can’t control the chromosome map children are born with, the intellectual or behavioral wiring realities, but you can ensure they are clean and look nice. That stuck with me and after a few trauma’s like described above…A strong suit was born.

    My partner has his own strong suits. Nothing is our house will be held together with duct tape, glue sticks, or (in a pinch) medical tape. I don’t give two hoots about this strong suit. It isn’t mine!

    In the end we add the strong suits we each bring and have an agreement/arrangement that what we can live with.

    I consider that shared parenting.

    I have strong suits in case management, IEP meetings, talking to the doctor’s, knowing when meds need to be refill, banging out a letter, changing the diaper of our 18 year old and finding resources under a rock.
    (I have friends that guide me on this one)

    His strong suits can be social interactions, (he can be very charming and disarming which is why the IEP team always asks if he is coming) all things electronic and mechanical (good… I can’t stand looking into a car engine… it just pisses me off) and he can demonstrate unrelenting patience to our daughter who scratches, pushes, hits and who can get me a head lock that I can’t get out of.

    Each of us brings our strong suits to the partnership and we have learned to respect what the other brings. Even when we think the other’s strong suit is ridiculous.
    But heck… I don’t begrudge him his strong suits and he doesn’t begrudge me mine.

    I do think I sometimes bring more strong suits to deal and in those moments I question if I carry more. But you know what… so does he!

    In the end I have reduced the whole equation to …
    We each have strong suits and not so strong suits.
    I am keeping mine and if things go well he will keep his and we each will bring what we have. That’s the “shared parenting” perspective that works for me… and keeps me out of car engines and my partner out of the clothes folding business! Thank God!


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