My Afternoon in Heaven
by Lisa S. Archinal
Recently, I signed up through our school district to be a substitute in the front office at my children’s elementary school. After I had finished the appropriate training, the school secretary called me to sub shortly after. I immediately said, ”Yes.” I couldn’t wait to help visitors sign in, deliver forgotten lunches and chat with the office staff (they’re awesome).
Imagine my surprise when I was told I wouldn’t be working in the front office, but instead in one of the special needs areas called, YCAP. I didn’t even know what YCAP stood for but thought it applied to me, “You Can’t Assist Worth Poop!” After all, I wasn’t trained to help young children with special needs. What if this experience was too overwhelming for me? What could I possibly have to offer these kids?
I warily agreed to take the assignment. Praying as I made my way to the YCAP classroom, I nervously opened the door, anxious about what I would see. Much to my amazement, nine angels sat before me!
Although, I’ve read about angels, I had never actually seen them. Angels are servants of God who deliver his message of hope. Sometimes they appear as celestial beings. Sometimes they come as mighty warriors. Sometimes they’re disguised as strangers. You never know when or where they’ll show up.
I never expected to see angels in an elementary school, but there they were. Six of them were disguised as little boys with autism. The other three were dressed as teachers. They invited me to sit down for quiet time. Seeing the fear on my face, one of the boy angels quickly came over and sat on my lap as if to say, “Don’t be afraid.” (Angels say that, you know.)
While none of the boy angels could speak, they could communicate unconditional acceptance without saying a word. The angels disguised as teachers were strong, compassionate and fun. Who knew angels had a sense of humor?
I spent the next four hours learning all kinds of things from these heavenly creatures. I learned that children with autism love potato chips, and they don’t really like doing sit-ups any more than other kids. And I learned that even in a world where innocent children are helplessly stricken with challenges such as autism, there is still room for hope and joy and laughter.
I discovered the teachers who commit themselves to serving these special angels are brave as warriors going into battle. They are tender as mother lions with their cubs. And they’re as determined as a starving man in front of a free buffet. These teachers fight for the kids and love them. They’ll do whatever it takes to develop the very best in these children.
I expected to help some needy kids that day in the classroom, but instead found myself surrounded by angels who helped me. (Angels do that, you know.) Oh, and I found out what YCAP means: Yes, Children with Autism are Priceless!
Lisa S. Archinal is a speaker and writer (lisaarchinal.blogspot.com). Her children are ages 8, 10 and 12.