My parents have a cottage on a remote lake deep in the woods. We’re lucky enough to go to each summer.
One of my favorite happenings in nature is to encounter a deer unexpectedly in my path. There’s something about seeing deer in the wild that is so connective; they lock your eyes without flinching and capture each move you make to be sure that they are safe and understood.
You’re humbled and excited all at the same time, afraid to speak or move a muscle for fear of breaching the perfection of the understanding between you.
I saw one the other day, as I was bringing towels down to the water and what occurred to me in that moment was how present I was; how vulnerable I was allowing myself to be and how grounded I felt by the experience.
I supposed that’s why people (including me) feel close to G-d in nature.
The Connection Between Nature and Autism
Then another thought occurred to me. There was something else in my life that gave me this connected feeling: working as an aide to my nephew, who has autism. I always joke with him that he’s my hero and have no problem admitting how much he’s impacted me (to anyone who will listen) but what I haven’t yet explored was why I feel so empty now that it’s over.
What was addictive to me about being with my nephew each day (for ten years) as he navigated his school life was his amazing ability to be present, pure and unadulterated. Most people do not live their lives this transparently. They add layers to protect themselves. But my nephew’s ASD allows him to be himself at all times. I have huge respect for that.
Now, as he prepares for his first year on his own at his new school, I see the subtle teenagerness settling in. He jokes, he smirks, he chides. But underneath it, shining through so clearly is his unbelievable sweetness, and purity of soul that, like a deer running off into the forest, leaves me breathless and grateful every time.
Do you think Autism is beautiful? Tell us what you think in the comments below.