They sat in front of us at the Easter service today. I’ve seen them before.
Three adult children and two middle-aged parents who smile easily. He sat in the middle between his dark-haired brother and sister — I’m guessing all three are in their 20’s. He’s a bit shorter than the siblings he’s sandwiched between, with a thicker waist and rounder stature than they have. But he has his brother’s hairline and his sister’s smile.
He chuckled when his brother gave him a hard time and affectionately squeezed his shoulders. He peeked back when his mom subtly pointed out Kate to him with a warm grin (though I saw them all peeking).
There was nothing out of the ordinary while watching their family — except, perhaps, their radiant joy. It was noticeable. You could tell they enjoyed being together. You could tell that having a brother and a son with Down syndrome was both a big thing and yet, nothing at all. And while the choir sang Hallelujah, I felt tears welling in my eyes.
I was hoping to chat with the mother of that family after church today — but we were lost in the crowd as the congregation piled through doors to hug and take pictures and hurry home to honey ham and Cadbury creme eggs. But I am also sort of relieved that we’ll have to meet another day — today I probably would’ve been a bit weepy.
Not because I’m discouraged that we share a bond of two mothers who have children of all abilities at our side — but rather, because I am so very grateful. I rejoice with a resounding Hallelujah that I know with a whole heart the truth that Archbishop Chaput spoke when he said:
“These children with disabilities are not a burden; they’re a priceless gift to all of us. They’re a doorway to the real meaning of our humanity. Whatever suffering we endure to welcome, protect, and ennoble these special children is worth it because they’re a pathway to real hope and real joy.”
And on this day where we sing and where we celebrate real hope and real joy in the realest sense of all, my heart is so very full.
“What hope we have, even in the longest night, for the light will overcome. We will not fear, for we know the sun will rise. Hallelujah is our song.” — Sarah Hart