The Encounter


It happened effortlessly.  One boy – severely autistic – sat in his father’s bike trailer, quiet, in his own world.  And then suddenly – out of nowhere it seemed  – another boy came running and leaped into the trailer next to the autistic boy.  The father, momentarily startled, turned to look.   Sensing that this new addition to his trailer meant no harm, his body relaxed and he returned to his adult conversation.

Meanwhile, the new boy smiled in delight at his find: the delicious safety of the bike trailer, the warmth of the boy next to him, the faint possibility that the bike attached to the trailer might move and he could be in for a ride.  It turns out the new boy was also autistic, although not to the same degree as the first.

The first boy gently raised his hand to pet his new seatmate.  The new boy received the strokes, smiling. His mother nervously tried to coax him out of the stranger’s trailer.  But her son refused to leave.  And why should he?  He had found a safe haven. He had found a companion who loved him, without demanding anything in return.  He could sit joyfully in this communion with his friend, shaded by the trees, enveloped by the canvas of the trailer, and simply be.

The gentle touches and joyful smiles went on for a good 45 minutes.  Both boys were completely relaxed and at ease. At one point, the first boy fell asleep while his new friend continued to smile with joy and delight, and from time to time, lightly stroked his now sleeping friend.  When it was time for the boy’s father to leave (and take the trailer!), the mother had to use all her strength to pull her son out of the trailer while he cried and clung to the canvas, not wanting to let go.  He had found home and wasn’t ready to leave.

It struck me how effortlessly this encounter had happened.  The first boy, just sitting, being himself, without even an awareness of any longing for connection; the second boy seeing the trailer, Life impelling him to jump inside, without any thought of “This isn’t my trailer.  I shouldn’t go in.  Maybe the boy inside won’t like me.  Maybe I should ask permission from the grown-up.”  He just leapt inside as if no other act in the world were more natural in that moment than simply joining the boy in the trailer.

And so, without any effort, without any agenda, or attempts to “make things happen”, two boys met each other, in communion, in joy, for 45 blissful minutes in their canvas hideaway under the trees.  All that was required was one boy following what was natural, just moving with the undercurrent of Life, and another boy receiving what Life had brought his way.

I was graced to be a witness to this all.   And by witnessing, I found that I too was included in this communion.  It turns out that Life had also called me to this joining  – to this encounter – and I, with deep awe and gratitude, received this call.