As a teenager, I used to watch Star Trek every week and lines such as “it’s life Jim, but not as we know it.” And “it’s not logical captain.” are fixed in my memory. Of course, I’ve forgotten individual episodes, indeed the only other thing I do remember is that Captain Kirk never failed to counter Spock’s logic.
I wish I had his ability. For I am the father of another Mr Spock.
My youngest son burst onto this worlds stage some 27 years ago and we’ve never been quite the same since. A happy and confident child at home, out in the real world it was a very different matter. Unless he knows you quite well, he will appear rude and inconsiderate. He finds it virtually impossible to make eye contact with people, or to go into rooms with a lot of people in them. His social ineptitude means that others bully him quite horribly.
When he was 12 he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which is an Autistic Spectrum Condition. A diagnosis that answered a lot of our questions but left us with many more.
Like how to counter the logic that meant he didn’t answer exam questions on subjects his teachers had covered in lessons. This was because they knew he knew the stuff. Or finding that he had picked up and put away all the shoes as he’d been asked, but that he had left the sandals and the slippers. Once, in Richard Huish, his tutor asked “how did you get in to college today?” he answered with a slightly bemused expression, “through the door of course.”
He’s now a happy and confident young man with a quirky sense of humour, a great line in put downs, and a way of looking at life in quite startling and interesting ways. But away from home it’s a different matter. You know those mediaeval maps where unexplored regions have the words ‘here be dragons’? Well that’s where my son goes whenever he goes out into the world. There he finds a place populated by the dragons of confusion and danger. Little wonder I suppose that he appears rude when accosted by strangers.
The life of faith is often likened to a pilgrimage journey with and to God. And Christians are called to travel alongside others on their journey. Sometimes we need to remember that others occasionally have a more difficult road to walk than we do – sometimes because of what life has thrown at them, sometimes because of mental illness or an autistic spectrum condition - but if we do remember that, and if we can treat them with love and compassion, however rude and awkward they may appear to be, then not only will we be living the Kingdom of God we will also be enriching both our lives and theirs.