see thee more clearly


I had to walk away from Huff Po yesterday. Despite many thoughtful, sensitive comments, there were some others which were anything but. The irony of leaving judgmental, vitriolic comments about other parents on a post that begs someone to stop making judgmental, vitriolic comments about other parents appears to be lost on those who just have to throw that one last rock.

It’s not my blog. I can’t police it. But I’m sick that it’s become a forum for even more anger and even more judgment and even more division.

The other day I wrote the following:

PLEASE respect each other and all of our different perspectives in the comments here. To be clear, the only thing that I take issue with in Jenny’s comments from Autism One (as you will see when the Huff Po post is up), is that she is discrediting the choices that other moms make. I refuse to do the same by discrediting HER choices for her son. Please, please – let’s not reinforce the division in this community by reacting to stone throwing by picking up rocks of our own. Thank you. xo

This morning I added this:

Guys, PLEASE do not use this as a forum to attack Jenny or biomed or for god’s sake, each other.

Please read the Huff Po post. Its whole point is that none of us has the right to judge another person’s choices. That goes for Jenny. That goes for me. That goes for all of us.

Please. when we start swinging a bat, we stop talking. When we stop talking, our kids are the ones who suffer for it.

I don’t know what else there is to do.

Last night in the car, my Katie was telling me that she has a really hard time understanding why the girl who targeted her in school this year seemed to get her kicks out of hurting other people. “I don’t get it, Mama,” she said. “I just don’t get it.”

I told her that she didn’t need to get it. That there are people in the world who do things that none of us can ever understand. I made it extreme to make a point. “Honey, there are people in this world who are incomprehensibly evil. There are people who murder other people. It simply doesn’t make sense.”

“But Mama,” she wailed, “that’s just it. It doesn’t make sense! I don’t understand why people need to hurt each other. Why there are murderers and why there’s war and even why there’s kids who somehow feel better when they make someone else feel bad. It doesn’t make sense!”

She was so upset. I love that she sees the world the way that she does. And I hate that she sees the world the way that she does.

“Baby,” I said, “I get it. I really do. I understand the frustration. But you have a choice in how you’re going to handle it. You can spend your time and your precious energy thinking about people like that girl or, you can use your incredible heart and that scary smart brain of yours to figure out how to make the world better. And I gotta be honest with you, kiddo, using your energy thinking about those people is making really, really stupid use of it.”

I was on a roll.

“Do something positive with that energy,” I told her. “Spend the summer figuring out what it is that you can do to make this world better. Pick something. Work on it. Devote yourself to it. Lead by example. Let people see how good it feels to do something positive – to help another human being. That’s my advice,” I said. “DO something.”

I wish I could share the rest of the conversation, but I feel like it needs to stay right where it is. Katie is eleven. Her inner life can’t be on display just because her mother’s a writer.

It’s funny though. I somehow missed the ludicrously obvious parallels until this morning. Amazing what happens when you open a laptop.

So today, instead of trying to duck barbs and douse flames in a war that rages beyond my control, I’m going to tell a story about my daughter. Because that’s what I DO.


Saturday morning

The girls and I are driving to New Jersey to meet my nephew. Katie is in the back seat. Brooke is in her favorite spot in the third row. She has her head against the rear vent window, reveling in the wind on her face.

We are listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway version of Godspell. Katie is singing along. Periodically, she stops to ask a question. “Who sings this one, Mama?” I direct her to her sister. “Brooke knows, honey. Ask her.”

Brooke answers every question, remembers every name.

This is a turning point. Katie turning to her sister for information. Her sister sharing it. The two enjoying this together. This is not small.

Day By Day is ramping up into the chorus. It’s impossible not to sing along.

Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

We are all singing now. Together. This is not small.

I cock the rear view mirror down so that I can see Brooke. I watch her for a moment, then look back to the road. Then again, I steal a look at my girl. And then it happens. She looks at me in the mirror. And she smiles.


She literally caught my eye and then smiled at me.

I can’t explain this. I don’t have the words. I know that it’s a moment that happens in cars all day long. Mom watches kid, kid glances at mom, smiles. So?

So everything.

It’s a metaphor, isn’t it? This journey we’re on. To see more clearly, follow more nearly, love more dearly. It’s all the same. The mystery of God, the universe, our children, autism, it’s all the same. The journey to understand, the faith to believe in something bigger than ourselves, to believe in possibility, to believe in our children, to believe in each other.

The desperate need for understanding, for clarity, for love. And the divinity of the moments when we see – really see – each other. That is my God. That’s where I find Grace. In the moments of connection, I feel the presence of the Divine.


God is in the car.

We continue down the road, singing as loudly as we can.

Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

33 thoughts on “see thee more clearly

  1. I am relatively new to your blog and don’t even know what Huffpo is and when I clicked on it wouldn’t open, so I don’t quite know what is going on here. Can you enlighten me?
    Your car story is so wonderful!

    • jess writes a blog over at a web site called huffington post (huffpo). She put one up about the recent remarks Jenny mcarthy just made at an autism one conference. She was asking us all not to be judgmental. She wrote with eloquence about why the remarks Jenny made are hurtful. She asked all of us to comment with out attacking anyone, and I guess some people feel the need to do so anyway.

  2. I just love it when your posts have a Godspell reference!!! LOL!!! Hugs from onboard Pacific Sun in North Queensland, Australia. Love to Brooke. Katie and you both from ‘Uncle Mark’. x P.S. Remember…”brick by brick…heart by heart” ! Hugs. 🙂

  3. Jess, I always forget to mention that I love that your mom has your back. I love seeing her supportive comments to you each morning. So lucky for you!
    My husband told me a long time ago that sometimes you just can’t read the comments. People tend to have extreme opinions about Autism, The R Word, and even that poor bus matron who was bullied on her school bus. The world is full of extremes and sometimes it’s ugly.

  4. Maybe that’s why Brooke loves Godspell so much! She can clearly hear the message, it’s a shame so many others just do not. The haters will go on hating and fighting and passing judgement, but as long as you keep on with your message – you can feel proud that they have not won! Day by day, Jess, it’s all we can do!

  5. Have you read mama be good today?? She raised a great point. As they say in the AA community, “take what you need and leave the rest.”

  6. I love it!! Thanks for sharing!! Those moments of connection are priceless.
    As for huffpo, those people are much like a bully. And nothing you can do to take away their anger and bitterness. You’ve touched so many people, and helped so many of us along this journey. Never forget that!

  7. ahhhh. . . good one, Jess. I think I’ll pass this one along to the Missus. She would appreciate the message, I suspect.

  8. I am continually reading the comments section on all articles I read simply because I’m curious as to who these people are.
    I have to tell you that this is something you shouldn’t take personally at all. I simply think there are some very angry people in this world, who rather than live life, sit online, and espouse their opinions on everything from blogs like yours to an accident in which a young girl dies, and they bad mouth the young girl. It’s sad… and it happens, BUT if these comments are abusive, they can be flagged and removed, and though you cannot police things, you certainly do not need to give them the satisfaction of being “heard.”
    Your post was well written so as “not to offend”, and though it’s hard, you need to know to overlook these types of people, because they are looking for something to be angry about, something to belittle.. and the thing is, they may not even have experience in this arena at all… and even if they do, it’s with one person with autism, or they have a friend who has a friend, etc etc… so no worries! Keep doing what you do, and let the angry people continue on. They can’t be changed, but the 6500 plus followers you have, and others who simply come across your posts, read you because somehow you make a difference in their lives, AND that’s something these “always angry” people cannot stand!
    So keep doing what you do, and know that you touch more people in one day than those people will touch in an entire lifetime!

  9. “Those who have the ears to hear, let them hear.” ~ Jesus

    The example of nonjudgmental compassion you provide is louder and clearer than words could ever be. Living it proves that it’s possible, for those whose imaginations cannot create the possibility out of words.

  10. No bat-swinging here, but maybe some confetti. After 6.5 years, this morning my girl streaked by me, scampering to the bathroom, where she pulled down her pants, sat down and went. All on her own. Just like your singing moment — “This is not small.”

  11. My favorite (besides the beauty of that story itself). “So today, instead of trying to duck barbs and douse flames in a war that rages beyond my control, I’m going to tell a story about my daughter. Because that’s what I DO.”

    I’ve noticed that recounting an experience -telling a story- through writing, serves a unifying purpose. This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. What a beautiful story in the car. I love those moments. You are beginning to get them SO much younger than we did. So wonderful. I am overjoyed for you and for Brooke.

    My answer to Katie’s “why do they do it” is that they do it to feel powerful. They do it because they feel so small and bad about themselves that it makes them feel bigger and more powerful when they beat down someone else. Only the truly confident can walk away and respect anothers choice. She doesn’t understand it because she is that person. It’s a GOOD thing not to understand it.

    It is so easy to leave ugly comments on your computer, behind the safety of anonymity. It brings out the worst in those people who feel small. You are right to take your own excellent advice.

  13. This is beautiful. Each day, your blog is saving me a little. As my husband, son, and I enter the confusing world of autism treatment? therapy?, I feel comfort reading your words. Thank you.

  14. Please don’t be discouraged by the people leaving negative comments. You are making a difference. I have been searching for lessons I can learn from my daughters diagnosis and the biggest one have have learned so far is that it’s HARD and everyone is doing the best they can for their family. I will not throw a stone even if someones path and choices are different than mine. I won’t do it.

  15. I have honestly stopped reading the comments section on articles and blogs because they usually upset me so. Before I started my Al-Anon program, and started working on being a person I could like, I could be as judgmental and nasty as the next person. I was looking for a fight, because my “sickness” craved the drama and the conflict. Now I KNOW BETTER, and I thank God every day for showing me the way to serenity and peace. That is why I stopped following blogs that promoted the judgement & in-fighting. that is why I started my own blog/FBpage to keep myself focused on the positive and that is why I LOVE reading blogs such as yours! You are a true inspiration and I anxiously await your posts, because you inspire me so. THANK YOU for all that you are and all that you do, you are an Extraordinary woman.

  16. When I used to read the comments on stories I had to remind myself that the internet is generally a force of good. The mean and spiteful views that people feel entitled to express are disheartening. And the sheer number of unpleasant comments made me feel like I was surrounded by negative people. I stopped reading the comments except on blogs like yours so I can focus on the positive. Your blog is such a place of support. Thanks for creating this space.

  17. I recently found your blog, and I’ve been truly enlightened by your everyday stories and thoughts related to life in general. My daughter is five and has sensory issues and is an old, sensitive soul by nature. She starts school this fall and I can only encourage her to continue to love people the innocent way that she does in spite of other’s need for attention and power. Your daughter is wise beyond her years. She’s right. It absolutely makes NO sense and the way you explained it to her was spot on! Your daughter is very fortunate to have a mother who encourages acceptance, love, and compassion for all.

  18. “Mom watches kid, kid glances at mom, smiles. So?”

    So HUGE. For us, those moments that so many people take for granted are something to behold and cherish. Think of those when negative comments start to get you down.

    Jess, I agree with the others who’ve said that the blogosphere is filled with irrational anger and hatred. I don’t know why but so many comments online everywhere tend to be so hate-filled, even when the topic is seemingly so innocuous. Recently I clicked on an article about spinning and even on that benign fitness topic a couple commenters found a way to twist it into some evil, harmful exercise on par with smoking crack. I was like “really?” Obviously divisiveness is everywhere!

    You have done so much to bring people together. And, as people have said, this is an unusually supportive place. Rejoice in that, because it is indeed a victory. (And as for spinning, I didn’t let the haters scare me out of the saddle!)

  19. Unfortunately almost any major article is going to get commenters who make personal attacks. It’s sad, but try not to take it personally. Hopefully huffpo will remove the worse ones.

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