Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When I Was a Child....

In my investigation of all things Aspergers, one of the things I've discovered is this sense among aspies of a child-like nature.

In six months, I hit the big 4-0. And yet, I don't feel like I'm an almost 40 year old. I mean, that I act like a big kid at times. This shouldn't be confused with acting childish, but more having some of the same qualities that make little children so adobrable.

It seems that I am not the only one who doesn't seem to act his age:

When I look at myself in the mirror, I find this much more difficult to gauge. I tend to see someone younger than me looking back at me.

I wonder if this is because I don’t feel thirty five years old?

I’ve never really felt like an adult. Adults act in a certain way - with a certain type of maturity. I suspect to a degree I judge the age of other people based on how they act as well as how they look. And as I don’t act the way a thirty five year old does, perhaps that’s why I don’t see a thirty five year old looking back at me from the mirror.

Do any of you also experience this strange sort of age dislocation?

(raises hand) I do, I do!

This makes me wonder: what is it that makes persons with Aspergers have a child-nature? What's going on in our noggins?

Well, I'm off to get on a seesaw. ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sexuality and the Aspie

Gavin Bollard, an Austrailian aspie that I follow has a good post today on sexuality and the teenager with Aspergers. For me, it brought back a lot of memories that make sense in light of my diagnosis.

It took me a long time to want to bear any skin. I would button my shirt up all the way and had a hard time wearing shorts or tank tops. In some ways, I still do have issues. On a recent trip to Argentina, my partner thought nothing of wearing shorts everyday. Me? Not so much. When it's hot out, I will wear them, but it's more of a last resort than anything else.

In many ways, I was on the very uptight end of the spectrum when it came to sexuality. Slowly but surely, I have become a bit more relaxed, but that more restrictive nature still has its residues.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Sermon- March 22, 2009

“First Aid”

Numbers 21: 4-9, John 3:14-21, Ephesians 2:1-10

March 22, 2009 (Fourth Sunday in Lent)

First Christian Church

Minneapolis, MN

As some of you know, I just got back from a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. My partner Daniel, tends to get cabin fever around late February, early March and somehow, we end up going somewhere. This year, it was to the land of good steaks and the tango. It was an awesome trip and I got to use my Spanish a lot.

We spent a lot of time visiting the different barrios of this immense city. One day, we went to the Plaza de Mayo which is akin to our National Mall. It is a small plaza that is in front of the Casa Rosada, or Pink House, which is the Argentine version of the White House. In the Plaza were several graffiti renditions of a white scarf shaped as if it were worn by someone. This represented los Madres, the mothers and grandmothers of those who had been “dissapeared” by the military during la Guerra Sucia or “Dirty War.” Between 1976 and 1su983, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship. The military decided to get rid of anyone that was deemed a threat and this included intellectuals, artists and political activists. Thousands were dragged into Ford Falcons and never seen again.

The mothers and grandmothers of those who had been taken decided to stage a protest in the Plaza de Mayo to demand justice. Los Madres kept protesting long after the military went back to their barracks and democracy was restored, seeking answers and demanding that those responsible for human rights abuses be punished.

Los Madres stopped their protests in 2006 in response to the government’s willingness to overturn amnesty laws. But this painting was a reminder of their bravery and something else: here in this wonderful city, there was a reminder that all was not well, even in paradise.

The texts today all deal in some way with the cross. In some ways, that shouldn’t be surprising: I mean, we are in Lent and on a journey that will take Jesus to the cross. But today, it seems all out in the open. We can’t run from it. Here is the cross in all its ugliness.

It’s kind of odd that we Christians use the cross as our symbol. It’s a symbol of death and a rather grizzly death. Some Christians have wondered why we even use such a symbol.

The cross can also be a reminder to us that things are not well in world. Like the symbol of Los Madres, it reminds us that in this world there is injustice and sin. People use each other, hurt each other and the rest of God’s creation. It reminds us that we are not okay, that we hurt each other. All is not well.

But that isn’t the whole story. In the story in Numbers which Jesus tells again in John, we a reminded that the cross can also bring healing and salvation. The story in Numbers tells us that the Israelites were complaining to Moses about the lot in life. God heard their complaints and sends poisonious snakes to come and torment the Israelites. They come to Moses again, this time pleading to get rid of the snakes. God hears the cries of the Israelites and tells Moses to make a golden serpent and place it on a pole. If any Israelite who was bitten, looked up at the golden serpent, then they would be healed.

Jesus uses this old story to make a point in his conversation with Nicodemus, the religious leader who came late at night to chat with him over coffee. Just as God used the golden snake to heal the Israelites, then so to would the Son of God be lifted up to heal creation. Nicodemus didn’t understand that, and I think most of us would have scratched our heads as well. Jesus was referring to his death on the cross. Jesus would be the golden serpent, the antidote to the state of the world.

What does this mean for us as a community of faith? I think it reminds us that in our daily lives and in the lives of our friends, we deal with snakes and crosses, those things that cause hurt and pain. In this current environment, many of us know someone that is dealing with a job loss or a home being foreclosed- it might even be the case that we are the one dealing with such a crisis. We face these snakes and crosses that bring a death of some kind. We may even wonder where God is to prevent us from facing these snakes. We and our friends walk around with the hurts and wounds of life. Sin, the separation of humanity from God and each other, still seems to reign. Sometimes we hide our hurts and pains from each other and pretend that everything is okay. Even in church, we tend to hide our pains, not wanting to burden others.

But the good news is that God works through what seems to be an instrument of death to bring life and healing. Just as the Israelites were able to find healing by looking at the golden serpent, we find healing, salvation through Jesus on the cross.

John 3:16 is probably the most well known verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world...” is how it begins. God loves all of creation. God loves us. All of us. And God shows God’s love by coming in the form of a human named Jesus, who lived among us and died for us. God brought healing to the world.

God has healed us, all of us. The cross remind us that not only that something is not right in the world, but that God is doing something about this. As a community of faith, we are called to go and tell people that they are loved by God. There is nothing that they have to do to earn God’s love, because it is by God’s grace that they are loved. We have a story to tell.

We also have a job to do. Just as God brought healing to the world, we are called to be a people that not only tells the story of God’s healing love, but also be a community of healers...wounded healers as the late Henri Nouwen used to say. This faith community, First Christian has lived a life in the shadow of a cross. The congregation was that was once large, is now not so large. We have wondered if the congregation could continue. But even in the midst of the crosses that have taken place in the life of this congregation, we have also seen acts of healing. We give space to two other congregations: Tiempo Nuevo and the Spirit of St. Stephens, showing hospitality to people who might be new to the area or who have been cast out of churches. We have opened up our space to the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus to give them space to practice. Churches have not always been friendly to gay and lesbian folk, but we have welcomed them in a sign of hospitality. We opened our doors to the world on election day, providing cookies and coffees to voters as they performed their democratic duties. In the midst of our own crosses, we have provided healing. We are called to follow God’s example and go and love the world, with all of its blemishes and join in God’s work of healing. We do that when we care for the poor, as we have on Food Pantry Sunday. We do that when we try to welcome those who enter our doors, be they black or white or Latino or of Arab descent; be they straight or gay, rich or poor.

Some of you might remember long ago when I first joined First Christian, I came down down with a severe infection that placed me in the hospital for two weeks. I had lost a lot of weight, couldn’t eat , I was in all around bad shape. Fluid had built up around my lungs making it hard to breathe. As a way to aid in my healing, the doctors decided to cut open a small slice in my stomach to get a catheter in that would drain the fluid in my lungs. It was not fun trying to get that thing in. Today on my right side is a scar from that incident. That procedure brought a lot of pain, but the scar reminds me that it also brought hope: it helped in making me better, taking away the fluids that were keep me from breathing.

We opened the service singing the hymn, “Lift High the Cross.” The chorus goes like this:

“Lift high the cross,

the love of Christ proclaim

till all the world adore

his sacred Name.”

A instrument of death brings life instead. Funny how God works. Let us life up the cross as a reminder of God’s love for the world and let us tell the story. Let us bring healing, First Aid to a world that needs healing. Amen.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rev. Tinman

One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek is one that comes from the Next Generation series called "Tinman." The episode features a Betazoid named Tam Elbron. Tam a little odd in that unlike other Betazoids who are all telepathic, he is not only telepathic, but super-telepathic. He can't shut out the other voices he hears and it nearly drives him insane.

I've been thinking about that episode in the wake of my Aspergers diagnosis. Every Sunday, I go to church and assist in worship. When I come home, I'm exhausted. Mentally, it is quite hard being "on" all the time, having to process all these people. Other days, when I am in the office, or working at home or a coffeeshop, I don't feel as drained as I do on Sundays.

It's not that I hate being around people. But being an Aspie Pastor can mean having to be out there a lot and that can be incredibly draining.

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this way. (You don't have to be a pastor to have felt this.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One Track Mind

One of the things that I've noticed is how I can only handle about one thought at a time. Let me explain.

Recently I had a meeting with the Senior Pastor where he asked me to work with the office manager on getting a music license for the church. I had in my mind one company that handles this and immediately told the office manager to look into this. Later that evening, I reported to the worship committee that I had signed up with the one company.

"Did you sign up with Company B?" the Senior Pastor asked.

For a split second, I thought that nothing was said about looking into the other company. He never talked about it, and anyway I had in my mind Company A. So, I called the office manager to work on getting us hooked up to Company B.

I am wondering if this is an Aspie trait: being single minded and not being able to handle more than one thought at a time. There have been many occasions where I hear something and focus on one part of it instead of the whole thing.

I know that people with Autism tend to focus on parts rather than the whole and that might be what's going on here. I had in my mind one company, not two.

I need to do more research, but this reminds me of the need to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.