Blue Eyes and I strongly suspect that the head pastor of our church has been a yogi in the past.

If we told Pastor Rylan this, he’d probably fall off his chair laughing. Nonetheless, he is so expansive in his thinking, and so naturally attuned to yogic philosophy, that we are pretty sure we’ve got a yogi pastor. It’s what keeps us coming back to a Christian church.

Another thing we love about this guy is that he’s authentic. For one thing, he is totally up front about his struggles with depression. Sometimes the depression so strong that it obviously takes everything he has just to stand up in front of everyone for a few minutes to introduce the speaker on Sunday. I appreciate that someone who runs a large church, who serves as counselor, leader, deliverer of God’s word, can be so human as to admit this challenge. Definitely not the stereotypical Christian who goes around church with a plastic smile on his face.

This last Sunday, Rylan spoke about a long road trip he had recently taken. A family man, it was a big deal to spend a few days alone on the road, and when he arrived at his destination he was planning to go into seclusion for a week.

So he’s driving along, listening to one of his mentors speak about prayer. Rylan knows that what comes next on the CD is a talk about seclusion, and he’s eagerly waiting for the prayer part to end so that he can get some pointers for his silent retreat. Suddenly God speaks to him:

“Rylan, listen to this part. It’s for you!”

God continues, telling Rylan that he spends a lot of time thinking about Him, reading about Him, and talking about Him, but he spends almost no time talking to Him. This, God continues, is the reason for his doubt, depression, feelings of incompetence and insecurity. God says to Rylan, “I love you too much to let you go on in this way.”

Wow. Talk about a game-changer! Since listening to Rylan I’ve been much more actively speaking to God out loud, mentally, and without words, in my heart.

Maybe, in God’s perspective, we are all autistic! I mean, think about autism and then think about us:

People with severe autism don’t respond when you call their names. Well, how often do we listen when God calls our names, I wonder. How often do we even hear a call? I’m pretty sure we’re getting called, and I’m equally sure that, speaking for myself, I don’t hear it more often than I do.

People with autism engage in stimming, those repetitive behaviors that calm them down and make the rest of the world disappear. How do I stim, I ask myself. The answer comes quickly: Addictions, materialism, unhelpful habits of thinking and behaving that make me so forgetful of my larger, spiritual nature.

Making friends is difficult for people with autism — they have a hard time relating. How about that friendship with God? I’ve heard it said that God is the nearest of the near; the dearest of the dear. Do we get that? Most of us feel we can’t relate to God, and so we give up before we even start. When it comes to God, we have a social disorder.

I was writing this when Blue Eyes happened by. “What defines autism to you?” I asked him. With additional food for fodder, I continue:

People with autism simply don’t see certain things because they’re so self-involved. ‘Nuf said.

Lastly, with autism, communication is a one-way street. Ha! We’re so locked into our own little worlds that we rarely reach out to God. Maybe, from God’s perspective, there’s very little reciprocity.

But once in a while, as with Pastor Rylan, there is an opening. And when there is, God takes it, hoping for the best.

I’m going to start working on my own autism. Time to really (I mean really) speak to God, reach out to God, let God shake up my comfortable little universe.  Time to become aware of, and relinquish, the soothing repetitive habits that block my higher nature. Time to look for God, listen to God, respond when I hear my name called.

And, of course, talk to God. Just open up my heart and my mind, and say it all to Him/Her. I am ready for recovery!

Many spiritual teachers say that the epidemic of autism is a symbol for the rest of us. Could this be what they mean?