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 The Gift Of Peace

     Many people have told me how sorry they are, that my children with profound retardation have so little in this world. As though they have been cheated somehow! That's where the annoying "poor little thing" attitude comes from.

     I always answer that my children don't know this. Their lives have been rich, and warm with love. To them, their world is full, happy, and complete. They are the only ones who don't know that their world is less complicated than others.

     Does God sit around feeling sorry for us, because we aren't as great as He, and don't own the universe? Of course not! He is very intently interested to see what we do with what we have been given. He is always eager to give His children an extra joy, more love, the warmth of comfort.

     I have spent much time trying to figure out what these special children's lives really feel like, as my children. The purpose of this is to be able to tell if I could make their lives better.

     I have always wondered what my children with profound mental retardation think about. How do they think? Do they only think in feelings: joy, sadness, hunger? Do they think in pictures, such as the memory of my face? Do they think in things that have happened recently, such as the morning bath? I do not think they think of things that happened weeks or months ago. I think they live for the moment, the present day is their only reality. I could be wrong.

     Three of my adult chidlren who still live at home, Caressa, Joey, and Cassie, are profoundly mentally retarded. Late in the afternoon, cooking dinner, I usually put them in their room to be kept company by a children's video. Chances are, it will be done when I come in to check. If the sun has gone down, they will be sitting there in the darkness, in silence. When I turn on the light, they all squint, and Caressa and Joey look at me. Cassie will have her same blank stare, and if she does glance at me, her expression will not change. Caressa will probably give me a smile, and grab for my hand. Joey just sits there, blinking.

     None of them care about that time between the movie and mom. Time has no meaning for them. They don't care if it gets dark. The night holds no fear for them. It takes imagination to fear the dark, and they don't have that.

     Was Caressa thinking about the things she could hear? The sound of the video rewinding. The sounds of the rest of the family in the next room. The geese honking outside her window. Or was she just thinking about the bib she was chewing on? Was Joey thinking about his own stillness in his chair, and about how he would enjoy getting into bed, where he would be free to turn from side to side? Was Cassie concentrating on her own motion, rocking back and forth? Or were their minds empty, perhaps. Simple, and content, waiting for life's next experience?

     One thing is certain. They have been given the spirit of peace.

* May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace. Romans 15:13

* ...that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1,2

     These three of my children are human, and thus, sinners, but dearly loved by their Creator. It is a certainty that they are filled with peace, through and through. He has looked upon them with great love and mercy, and given them both a wonderful gift.

     God cares about every sparrow that falls. He cares about the happiness of the most helpless of people. You can know absolutely, that He cares about you.

2004 Rosemary Gwaltney