Originally published in the WFCF Newsletter, Vol. 10, No. 1, February 2016
As I have shared before through other messages over the years, serving on the board of the World Forgotten Children’s Foundation is very personal for me. My family and I know intimately what it means to care for a child with disabilities. My son Matthew, now nearly 28 years of age, lives with severe and multiple intellectual and physical disabilities and autism. We are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where there are services and programs that enable us to continue caring for him in our home, in a loving, safe environment. That support is essential and invaluable for us. Not every child around the world is so fortunate to have the kinds of care and support that Matthew does.”
Let Me Share a Story…
Each year for more than a dozen years, as soon as Halloween is over, Matthew waits for the lights. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, as the temperatures drop and the leaves fall, he waits for the lights. He knows that they will come.
The neighbors across the street always put up a beautiful, brilliant light display for the holidays and Matthew eagerly waits for them to be turned on, which usually happens right after Thanksgiving. And then, each day between Thanksgiving and until the lights are turned off in January, he waits, excitedly, from mid-afternoon on. Each day he sits by the front windows or the front door in energetic and coiled anticipation, laser-focused, undeterred, intent on the moment of their nightly illumination.
And when each evening’s moment comes, you know it no matter where you are in the house. The effervescent squealing. The rhythmic clapping. The excited twirling around the house in his wheelchair. It’s pure joy. Pure delight on his face! And it happens every single night.
He waits for the lights. During the darkest days of the year. He sits, and he waits. Transfixed by those lights brightening the dim, winter sky.
For all his limitations, in the world’s view – his intellectual disabilities, his autism, his two-year-old mind in a twenty-eight-year-old body, his inability to speak – Matthew knows something very profound: that light will shine in the darkness, that no matter how dark, how long the wait, eventually, and without fail, those lights will shine again. No matter how many seasons of the year without them, there will come a season when those lights will shine again. They always do.
Life brings its own seasons of darkness, especially for children who live with disabilities and who have been orphaned. Desperate, at times. Lonely. Painful. Full of fear. But despite those seasons, a new season can come, and the light can be seen again.
Every child deserves to have light in his or her life – the light of hope, the light of safety, the light of love.
For Me, It’s Very Personal
World Forgotten Children Foundation helps to make that kind of light possible to shine in some of the darkest corners of the world, in some of the darkest corners of children’s lives. I am proud to be part of such a noble and caring effort. I hope that you will want to join me in supporting this effort to enable light to shine.