Friday, October 25, 2013

Does God know where Avonte is?

Hey, jesus, it's me. i don't usually talk to you but my baby's gonna leave me, and there's something you must do. i am not your faithful servant, i hang around sometimes with a bunch of your black sheep, but if you make my baby stay, i'll make it up to you and that's a promise i will keep

October 4th. An autistic student, Avonte Oquendo, walks out of his school. He is nonverbal, so he is unable to tell anyone where he is going, assuming that he did have a destination in mind. The security guard just let him walk. And he hasn't been seen since.

Media outlets were slow to pick up the story- maybe they were too busy covering the nursery school that is the U.S. Government, maybe they have a staff policy about only covering the disappearances of blonde white girls, I don't know. But the autism community was right on it. Daily tweets featured Avonte's picture and desperate pleas. #AvonteOquendo. #FindAvonte. Search parties were convened and every possible area was investigated. #Missing. #Wandering. #BringAvonteHome. His mother's voice was played throughout the city in the hopes that Avonte would hear it and make himself known. #PrayForAvonte.

Pray for Avonte.

Let's unpack this a little.

hey, jesus, it's me. i'm the one who talked to you yesterday and i asked you please, please for a favor but my baby's gone away, went away anyway and i don't really think it's fair, you've got the power to make us all believe in you and then we call you in our despair, and you don't come through

I won't assume that everyone reading this post believes in God, but those who do would probably agree that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal, etc., etc. etc. God is beyond time and sees the ending and the beginning, the start and the finish. So it would stand to reason that God, if one believes in him/her/it, already knows that Avonte is missing. He saw Avonte leave school. He saw where Avonte wandered off to.

God knows where Avonte is.

If you do know Avonte's location, God, try cluing us in.

How many prayers do you suppose we need to utter before we hit the tipping point and God lets us see what is behind door number three? If I pray once, doesn't God hear it? Why do I need to pray again? Did he step outside for a smoke? Does he have his headphones on, jamming out some Kiss?

Some would say that everything that happens is foreordained by God, that things are predestined. Really? No, really? "God's will" is that Avonte be missing? God wrote it down in a book somewhere, page 1693 of the future history of Queens, NY- "Avonte Oquendo will wander out of school on October 4th, 2013...."


On May 6, 2013, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were able to escape from a man for whom the word "evil" doesn't adequately describe what he put these women through. They were in captivity for 10 years. They disappeared, they were searched for, and most people probably left them for dead. But they survived. They existed. They were there, for all of those ten years. So it is not impossible to believe that Avonte Oquendo is out there, and that someone knows where he is. Someone out there has seen him. Someone out there may have him.

If you are reading this, and you have Avonte trapped in your home, please give him up. Let him go home to his mother. Because he will be found. And you will be found too. And there are a lot of people standing in line to kick your ass six ways from Sunday.

hey, jesus, it's me, i'm sorry. i don't remember all i said, i had a few, no, too many and they went straight to my head, made me feel like i could argue with god but you know, it's easy for you, you got friends all over the world, you had the whole world waiting for your birth but now i ain't got nobody, i don't know what my life's worth

But there is another possible outcome to this story, an outcome that doesn't even cross the mind of an autism parent as one that is even remotely possible. It is an outcome that just can't be conceived in the minds of those concerned for the well-being of Avonte Oquendo. And that is that some asshole could have murdered him. Avonte could be dead right now.

I don't want to believe that.

But it is possible.

What happens to all the prayers in the event of that possibility? What, did we just not pray enough? Were we one prayer short? Two? Twenty? Twenty thousand? Do we hold God's feet to the fire in that case? Certainly all the prayers being offered up in this situation are for Avonte Oquendo to be returned home. Safely. And alive.

I have had it told to me that when we pray, God has one of three responses- Yes, No and Wait. I don't believe that. If I asked my son to take out the trash on Thursday because the garbage men come on Friday morning (assuming that he was neurotypical instead of autistic like Avonte), and he doesn't take it out, then yes, he answered my request by saying "No". If he does take the garbage out, but waits until Friday evening to do it, did he answer my request by saying "Wait"? No, he did not answer my request. Granted, he did take the trash out, but not when it needed to be taken out.

The time to find Avonte is now. Not tomorrow. Not two weeks from now. Not on Thanksgiving in order to provide a nice little story to wrap up this whole situation in. He can't talk. He can't tell people where he needs to be. He needs to be found.

And if they find him two years from now? Or they find him in a state that I am unwilling to think about right now?

In that case, maybe it is time to confront another elephant in the room. Maybe it is time for those of us who believe in God... to maybe re-examine that belief? How many times do we see an urgent prayer not answered before we say wait a minute... what if... I'm wrong? Maybe... what if...

God isn't there?

I have this naïve belief that anything is possible. I believe in unexplainable events. People can be totally cured of cancer, AIDS, Alzheimers.... A person could come to my door with $50 at the very same moment I am pleading with God to give me a C-note to put groceries on the table... maybe a parking space could even appear in a crowded mall parking lot so I don't ruin my makeup in the rain. All of these things are indeed possible. But does that make them ordained by God?

If I took 100 six-sided dice, and rolled all hundred over and over again, eventually they could all come up ones. Maybe twice in a row. Maybe all ones, then all sixes, then all ones again. It could happen. It is possible. But it is more likely that the numbers will be in random assortments with every roll. In the same way, things could happen that defy our ability to come up with a cause. But that doesn't necessarily mean that God made it happen. The natural course of events is that people die. Sickness happens. Kids become autistic, or they are born autistic, or who the hell knows why? **it happens.

i'm not gonna call on you any more. i'm sure you've got a million things to do, all i was
trying to do was to get through to you, get through to you because when i die and i get up to your doors i don't even know if you're gonna let me in the place, how come i gotta die to get a change to talk to you face to face?

Hey God, now is the time! No more waiting. Avonte needs to be found NOW. You know where he is. If I knew where a missing child was, and didn't say anything, I would be held negligent.

God, are you listening?

You certainly have some 'splainin to do.

("Hey Jesus" is by Indigo Girls and is on their album Strange Fire.)