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Lamplighter - Fr. Aran

posted Feb 25, 2016, 12:33 PM by St. Thomas Church   [ updated Sep 27, 2018, 1:40 PM ]

Hello friends . . . grace and peace,

We all make plans.  Plans are good.  Some people believe that if you “fail to plan” then you “plan to fail”.  And that may or may not be true.  Having a plan is a good way to map out the next steps in your life.  But sometimes having a plan can be an unwelcome anchor that holds you down and keeps you from expanding your horizons.

Plans can, and should, change.  If they don’t, they’re no longer “plans” but rather an unwavering blueprint.  Ask any architect what happens if you don’t change things that need to be changed during a building process!

In 1987 and woman named Emily Perl Kingsley wrote a short essay called “Welcome to Holland”.  It was written specifically about what it can feel like when you are blessed/surprised with having child with special needs.  So you can read it in that context.

But this essay is also applicable to ANY time ANY one has a change in plans.  Maybe it’s a change in career, a different educational path, overcoming addiction . . . ANY change.  And so, I offer you this short essay.  If you’ve ever had to change your plans, or switch the streams you’re swimming in, or make an adjustment to how you saw your life going . . . “Welcome to Holland!”

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.