I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
The young man is not really so different. He's dressed casually in a short-sleeved sport shirt, the kind with the ribbed crew neck and multi-colored stripes. Not too tight. And jeans - nondescript, really. Not sagging, not Urkel-pulled up. Just. Jeans. His hair is a little wavy; it might be considered longish by today's standards, but certainly groomed well. I realize, as I watch him, that what draws my attention to him, is actually the woman accompanying him. Middle aged. A little more weight than I imagine she wants to carry, but her posture is good. Glasses. One of those curly-frame-your-face hair styles. Even from three lanes down I can see the traces of lines in her face. Softness. Kindness. Compassion.
She's guiding him by the wrist.
I watch. Fascinated.
She maneuvers him behind a steel-tubed ramp. He swings the heavy ball up, following subtle cues from her hands. Until it rests at the top. She steps behind him and waits. I can see her lips move, and see an answering smile from him. He pushes the ball down the ramp where it is centered on the alley - the bowling alley. This is special olympics bowling. The young man is blind - the woman is his mother.
Before the ball spins off the foot of the ramp, mom has place her two hands on her son's back. One by his belt, the other at the base of his neck. The belt hand creeps up toward the spread-fingered neck hand - tracing the path of the ball down the alley. It travels a little to the left of the spine then hooks in to the right just before the actual bowling ball strikes the pins at the far end of the lane. Her fingers crumble in by ones and twos, both hands now acting like falling soldiers, until just one remains in the seven position.
I see him nod and his lips move again as she guides him back to the ball return. They re-rack and he pushes the ball. The hands begin their journey - their story - and the young man stands attentively watching what he cannot see. The seven pin remains. A miss.
I have never spoken with this pair. I don't know their lives. I don't know if he still lives at home, or if he is in supported living in the community. I don't know if they argue. I don't know what makes him smile, what makes them laugh. I don't even know the words between them, when they stand at the head of the lane.
But I know her. Not her name, not her address or job. I know her motherhood. I know her find-a-way spirit. The I-want-him-to-be-accepted attitude she has. Her patience, her will, their determination. I see this spirit, this attitude, instilled in him - in his clothes, his demeanor, his confidence, his pride. Ball after ball, frame after frame, game after game, week after week. She guides him. She shows him. She leads him. Down unfamiliar paths. From darkness to light. She makes his rough places smooth. How biblical is that? Support. Friend. Mother.
They are a joy to see.
Father God, thank you for showing me joy in a different way.
Thank you for bringing light into darkness.
Thank you for making rough ways smooth,
for your guidance, for your support,
for your friendship,
for your love.