We have many rituals, many little things we do the same way every day.
From the way she makes me sit on the stool next to her in the bathroom to where and how she eats, walks, sits, comes and goes – everything has a pattern and must be done in a particular way.
Our routines around RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) practice are quite established now. Terre, our therapist extraordinaire, comes on Saturday mornings and she and Rhema have their own way of working together.
When it’s time for a session with me, she gets up and heads down to the basement. She settles into her broken-down arm chair and hands me the remote. She knows I won’t turn on the TV, but handing the remote to me anyway is part of the process.
I read a story or do a math lesson. She scribbles on paper. I write words and numbers, hold up the stencil board and prompt her to stick her pencil through the letters. We “talk” about it all… how Moses persevered, how Leah found beauty and worth in God’s eyes, and how the yellow in Joseph’s coat must have been brilliant.
At the end she hands me the remote again and pulls me to sit in the broken-down chair with her. She wraps my arm around her and pulls the table in close as if to tuck us in. Silently we sit and watch the same old nursery rhymes. Together. It what we do.
Sometimes I think that through our RPM practice we’re finding a new pathway to each other through a complicated maze. A place where I get a glimpse of the more she has to share, and she discovers that she can indeed share it and be heard. Other times, try as we might there’s no making sense of that board of 26 letters. We’re looking at each other across a great divide. Pages and pages of written on/scribbled on paper like our own Morse code litter the table, the floor, the room.
Nauseating, deep discouragement and panic set in… will we ever make it? Will we find the way again?
I dare to pick up the book again – the Jesus Storybook Bible. Joseph, the dreamer, has been sold into slavery in Egypt. It seems all his big plans have been cruelly ruined. I read to her, to me, “But God had a magnificent dream for Joseph’s life and even when it looked like everything had gone wrong, God would use it all to help make the dream come true. God would use everything that was happening to Joseph to do something good.”
And so the story goes…
But God had a magnificent dream for Rhema’s life and even when it looked like everything had gone wrong, God would use it all to help make the dream come true. God would use everything that was happening to Rhema to do something good…
It’s doing something. Working something.
I don’t know what the “gone wrong” looks like in your space, but I know that nothing is wasted in His hands.
When Rhema was a baby I began quoting Romans 10:8-9 to her as I put her to bed. It’s another ritual – more for me than for her, I think. (And now, Hope too, requires I say the verse to her at bedtime as well). If I’m not there to put her to bed, I slip into her room after she’s asleep and whisper that verse. In the past I’ve written it on her bedroom door.
“Rhema, the Word is near you; it is in your mouth…” I touch her lips.
“…and in your heart…” I trace a heart on her chest.
And one day out of the blue, when she was five years old, she said words in her verse. ‘Mouth’ and ‘heart’ and ‘saved’. I hadn’t known she was listening or remembering or even caring. But the words had made their way into her heart and they’ve never left.
Our many feeble attempts, our messes of paper, pencils, stories, numbers and letters. Our never ending, seemingly meaningless routines. Our long days of trying and praying and hoping. I can’t always see it, but I have to believe. It’s doing something good.