In Brooklyn, New York, there is a school for children with learning disabilities called Chush. A few years ago, a father of one of the students, Shaya, spoke at a fundraising dinner for the school. He began mildly enough, thanking this person and that person. Then he startled everyone with an anguished question: “Where is the perfection in my son, Shaya? Everything done in heaven is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do…Where is the perfection in that?”
The guests sat silent.
“I believe,” the man continued, “that when heaven brings a child like this into the world, the perfection it seeks is in the way people react to this child.”
He then told a story. One day he and Shaya were watching some boys play softball. Shaya wanted to play, and the father went over and spoke with the pitcher of one of the teams. The boy was at first unsure. Then he shrugged and said, “Whatever. We’re in the eighth inning and behind by six runs. We’ve got nothing to lose. Sure. He can play short center field. We’ll let him bat in the ninth.”
Shaya was ecstatic. He shambled out to his position and stood there.
But by the bottom of the ninth, his team had fallen behind by two points and had the bases loaded. They needed a home run to make it work – only, Shaya was scheduled to bat. The boys conferred, and to the father’s amazement they handed the bat to Shaya. He stood over the base, clutching the bat askew, too tight. The pitcher from the opposing team then did a remarkable thing: he took several steps closer and lobbed an easy ball right over the plate. Shaya swung wildly and missed wildly. One of his teammates came up and wrapped his arms around Shaya from behind, and together they held the bat. The pitcher lobbed another easy ball, and Shaya and his teammate bunted it. It rolled right to the pitcher. All the players shouted for Shaya to run to first. He shuffled along. The pitcher could have had an easy out, but he threw the ball wide and far to left field. Shaya made first base. The players yelled for him to take second. Again, the catcher in left field threw wide and far, and Shaya made second. On it went, the other players all making home plate, Shaya loping along and everyone from both sides screaming themselves hoarse for him to run all the way. He touched home plate, and the ball came singing in behind him. The boys cheered madly. They mounted Shaya on their shoulders and paraded him as a hero.
“That day,” the father said, “Those eighteen boys reached their level of heaven’s perfection.”
Excerpted from Hidden In Plain Sight by Mark Buchanan