A Racing Mind

Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

I couldn’t take my eyes off of #Bodexpress. As soon as the race began, I called downstairs for Loretta, because she needed to come watch this with me. “There’s a horse running without a jockey at The Preakness,” I said with elevating octaves of joy. I literally stood in my living room and with a lump in my throat I clapped with sincere hope. Such a sweet moment. Tears were inevitable.

While War of Will won the Preakness, Bodexpress won my heart and the hearts of millions. I fell back into my chair as exhausted as I was exhilarated. Deep sigh of happiness. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a scene so awesome. He just wanted to run with this friends. He was like, “Hey guys, wait for me!” In fact, I remember noticing him being jumpy and jittery at the gate. He was trapped for a minute. But then…freedom.

Yesterday out of the blue, Gina Spivey, the Pastor of the special needs ministry at our church sent me a picture of my boy Jordan. He was - wait for it - standing next to a horse. Yep. The timing was surreal. Not sure the context of the pic. Not sure if he rode the horse or was merely there to walk him and care for him, but Jordan is trapped inside. Autism saddles his mind and reins his thoughts. I love him so much. He’s got the sweetest heart of any boy you’ve ever met.

Jordan and a buddy.

Jordan and a buddy.

Many of you know I get to hang with him once a month, and every so often, it’ll happen. Jordan will look me square in the eye and with complete clarity he’ll say something or respond to something with absolute coherency and lucidity. As if waking from a dream, he’ll look at me inquisitively. Almost as if he was wondering how long I’d been sitting there. I can’t explain it, but he locks on to the topic. And when he does, I can’t take my eyes off of him. I delicately respond with a follow up and I’ll try to keep him on track before we change universes. But for just a split second, we have a typical conversation. As if for the briefest of moments, he’s free.

Sometimes moments of purity invite themselves into our world without notice, permission or apology. Those moments don’t always last.

Speaking of, Bodexpress evidently decided to run around the track one more time just for the fun of it. Eventually they caught up with him and escorted him back to his stall, but one more time around the track was just too irresistible.

Bodexpress after making a run for it.

Bodexpress after making a run for it.

Racing Thoughts:
You know, I doubt I’m ever closer to God than when I’m with Jordan. Not because of anything in me, but because if anything in life is pure, it’s found in the hearts and minds of kids with special needs. Don’t tell Gina, but Jordan and I take the toys out of the toy room, we slam the outside gate and sometimes throw things over the fence. And sometimes, when he’s smiling, jumping and giggling to himself, I like to think he’s just heard something that only he and God can hear, and I get to watch him run.

- Jimmy Peña

P.S.
For my money, I’d rather all the horses be set free, but I know that’s impossible. Even so, that’s how I want to live and how I want to serve the disability community. With reckless joy and power and enthusiasm. I’m about to start.