J.R.R. Tolkien was a very religious man, though this isn’t a well known fact. I read a biography of his lately entitled ‘The Secret Fire’ which describes Tolkien’s inspiration for his many amazing stories, and how he believed that God speaks to us not through prayer and sacrifice, but through music and nature… secret zephyrs and sun rays for your eyes only. When we feel inspired by these things, or feel raised goosebumps on our skin as a result of something beautiful, this is God speaking to us. I would love to go into more detail because it really is an excellent read, but I won’t, instead I urge you to add it to your reading lists.
A very strange and wonderful thing happened last night.
The Cologne New Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra performed in Wicklow Town’s Parish Church. The Chinese would tell you that anything set at 8:00pm on 08/08/08 would be a very auspicious event indeed so it felt right. It felt right, in fact, from the very first moment I laid eyes on the advertisement several weeks ago, but I don’t know why. I just knew that I had to go, and that I had to bring Laughingboy with me.
We sat on an empty pew right at the back of the church beside an open side-door. Cool air flowed past us, smelling of wood and stone and Wicklow harbour, and the crowded temple shuffled in anticipation. It all began with ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. (Listen to it here)
I was so delighted they started with this… it’s one of my favourites. As you might know, the first movement is very quiet, with awe-inspiring violinny bits intertwinkling with the theme. Laughingboy’s ears pricked up and his eyes brightened the instant it started… the high pitches of the violins spread huge grins across his face and he began to move his arms about conductor-style, his heels tapping against the footrest of his wheelchair as he kicked and jigged.
The second movement ended and deafening silence ensued, broken by a sudden long and loud giggle from the happiest child in the world. This sound blasted its way up to the rafters and then bounced around the stone walls for a bit. A sea of heads turned, and I gave them the thumbs up and a big grin. I was happy too, just watching the impact of this beautiful classical music on my son.
The third movement began suddenly with an excited torrent of harmony, and Laughingboy jumped. His arms and legs froze and his eyes grew wide, I thought he was going to cry from the shock but he didn’t, he just stayed frozen. I lifted him out of his chair and cuddled him on my lap so that I could tap the beat on his knees, and then it happened.
He leaned backwards and locked his gaze with mine, his eyes dark and intense (his pupils alarmingly dilated), but his face wore an expression of pure love. He then began to pour God into me undiluted. I felt my soul fill up faster and faster and I thought I was going to explode – tears brimmed in my eyes and my heart raced, every tiny hair on my body danced as I accepted this pure love… no, it was more than love, I can’t explain what it was, but when I looked up from Laughingboy’s gaze, I saw colours shine through the stained glass window that I’ve never seen before. The music became so clear, like it was as natural as a breeze rustling through long grass in the summertime – I could sense the pain and the happiness in the people around us and I loved them all just for being alive.
Instead of exploding however, I felt as it all began to slowly soak through me and radiate from us both as we sat, bathing in the energy, cuddling and bopping for two hours, floating out of the church when it was all finished. I pushed Laughingboy really fast… running all the way up the hill back to the car like a madwoman. We laughed belly-laughs as on-lookers stared and smiled.
When I got home, I found that I was interrupting a Wii night in with the Lads, but the Wiimotes were suddenly forgotten as they flocked to Laughingboy like moths to a flame. One of the lads – a regular visitor of Medjugoria and follower of all things God – stood beside Laughingboy for a long time, watching as he flapped his arms and legs and contorted his face into all sorts of grins and smiles. We spoke about autistic children having extra sensory abilities and put a heavy bet that Laughingboy was a definate contender for the theory, and agreed that there was something new about the kid, a fresh energy, knowledge… who knows what. It was certainly something amazing and I felt it, it’s still there, topping me up every now and then… it’s so hard to explain.
I finally found a way to communicate with my son and I’m the happiest mother alive. That’s all I know.