Being present / Nature & Hiking

A Rose Beyond All Measure – Autism Sings

A Rose Beyond All Measure – Autism Sings

It never ceases to amaze me the perfection that exists all around us. Earlier this week my partner clipped this magnificent rose from the garden–its visual beauty equaled only by its heavenly perfume. However modest she tried to be, living quietly in our backyard, this special rose drew attention to herself. She swayed in the soft morning breeze and whispered a prayer for someone to take notice. Reluctant as we were to cut short her life on the vine, we snipped her from the stem and brought her inside. She was lovely and sweet and gave us immense joy this week until today when all her petals fell. To have her meet the same ultimate fate, though, by staying on the stem seemed such a waste.

We felt blessed to have this rose in our presence, all five-inches round of her, packed with at least a hundred lovely petals. She was truly one-of-a-kind.  She sat in our home office between my partner and me and provided us a welcome distraction from serious topics, worries and woes. Every time either of us felt a little overwhelmed this week, we stopped to breathe in her intoxicating, sweet scent. We marveled at how many petals she revealed as she gently unfolded before us… for us, it seemed.

Along the same vein, I watched a video on the internet this week of a young, blind autistic boy who was born with unnecessary challenges. His mother fed herself with cocaine while she carried this precious seedling, so not only was he born weighing less than two pounds, but his eyes were not properly developed, thereby resulting in 100% blindness. In his first two years of life, he bounced around from foster care to family relatives and then eventually was adopted by a loving couple. By the age of four, he was also diagnosed with autism. Speech challenges in his earlier years kept him from being able to successfully communicate with his family, which put great strain on them all. But there was more to this story than met the eye, because this child had more petals to reveal.

His adoptive parents picked up on the fact that music was something he responded to, so in an effort to help this little flower grow, they enrolled him in music therapy. It turns out that despite being planted in tainted soil, this boy was born with a gift and a special purpose. He loves to sing. In fact, to everyone’s surprise, it was discovered that he has perfect pitch. The boy’s name is Christopher Duffley. He has truly blossomed through singing and playing the piano, and he is now building skills through music therapy that have greatly enhanced his ability to have conversations with his family and develop other important learning skills.

But Christopher’s gift goes way beyond a mere physical ability to produce pitch-perfect sound from his little body. It’s what he does to other people that makes him so beautiful. Without even trying, he has drawn such attention to himself. As his sweet, joyful voice fills the air, hearts start to open. The words to songs like “Open the Eyes of my Heart” (“Open the eyes of my heart, lord / I want to see you / Pour out your power and love / As we sing…”) and “Lean on Me” (“Please swallow your pride / If I have things / You need to borrow / For no one can fill / Those of your needs / That you won’t let show”) take on deeper meaning coming from this unlikely vessel. His audience helplessly lose themselves in the beauty of the moment. Are some of them becoming aware for the first time in their lives of their own vulnerability and the possibility that we are all part of a grander arrangement?

With so many examples of rare beauty around us–the rose that is more than just a rose, the child that is more than just a child–I find it hard to believe there are people among us who don’t believe in a higher power that makes this all possible. Some things cannot be explained away as simply the result of science, of dust and black holes, of neurons and neutrons. Some things are greater than the sum of their parts simply for the joy they bring to others.

Here are some links to videos of Christopher:

12 thoughts on “A Rose Beyond All Measure – Autism Sings

  1. I also have a number of unexplained roses. The first one blossomed after my then six year old autistic child played all summer in a disused plant pot…He flooded it with water, got mucked up to his teeth for weeks and weeks, slashing his Thomas trains through it, basically that plant stand was his playground the whole summer. It wasn’t until the end of August, the day before his first day at school (I had homeschooled him until then) that we noticed the rose…just like yours, stretching its neck out of the plant pot towards the sky…Oh Yes…there is a higher power and anything is possible. Thanks to my son with autism I know that now.

    • What a beautiful visual that is… your little rose literally growing from the pot. I am humbled you read my posting, for it is clear even without meeting you that you must be a beautiful rose yourself. The more one loves and accepts, the more one is able to love and accept. God bless!

  2. “the more one is able to love and accept.”

    May I take liberty to paraphase a little:

    The more we love and accept ourselves, the more one is able to love and accept others.

    Blessings to you too my friend!

    • That is true, too, and one of the first rules of love. When writing the above, my first thought was the exponential nature of love and acceptance… the more you give, the more you get back. But there are so many worthy lessons when it comes to love and acceptance; I could write a book. Hmmmmmm…. 🙂

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