I Was a Stranger to Beauty
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How can you keep loving someone who seems to be destroying your family? And how can you separate a beloved person from their terrible actions?
I Was a Stranger to Beauty invites readers to walk the road of loving people as they are ... a narrow, challenging road that leads to vistas of unimagined rewards.
Writer Caroline McGraw shares her arduous (yet joyous) journey toward acceptance of her only sibling, Willie. Willie, a young man on the autism spectrum, struggles with self-injurious and aggressive behavior. Caroline and her parents do their best to offer help and support, but Willie’s behavioral challenges continue. In the face of this seemingly insurmountable difficulty, can they find a way to carry on as a family?
I Was a Stranger to Beauty follows Caroline as she makes an unexpected transition: from angry sibling of a young man with autism to full-time caregiver for adults with special needs. After graduating from top-ranked Vassar College, Caroline takes a detour from her plan to write professionally in order to become a live-in direct care worker at a L’Arche home. L’Arche, a faith-based non-profit wherein people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together, is Caroline’s training ground for forgiveness.
As she forges new relationships at L’Arche, Caroline finds herself at the threshold of a new space — a space of simplicity, small wonders, and overarching peace. In her work as a caregiver, Caroline falls in love with people with special needs, and begins to see the kind of things that only they can show her … namely, how to love, and not fear, her brother.