Dragons do exist. My son has seen them. He knows where they live. On the way from our house to his school there is a small patch of trees off to the right side of the street. And every time we drive by he will point and say "Dragon". I have looked every time and never seen one but I know they are there. Some days he is excited when he points them out as if they might come out to play at any moment. Other days more solemn as if they are lost in those woods without a friend. And still other days he quietly whispers "Dragon" under his breath so as not to incur the wrath of their anger thus endangering our whole community. Matthew Shaver was born 18 years ago and by the world at large is not considered "normal" like the majority of the rest of us. Born with Down syndrome he marches to the beat of a different drummer. (Somewhat like his father I might add.) There are many things Matthew will never do. He may never drive a car solo. He may never live independently. He most likely will never marry or have children of his own. There are dreams a father has for his son that will not be realized. Matthew often is the life of the party and can give a bear hug like nobody else I know. But he wakes up grouchy like most other teenage boys when it's time to get ready for school. He argues and talks back to his father more than I'd like him to. He slams doors when he's angry. He gets sad. He feels left out. He's aware that he's not like everyone else and it sometimes bothers him. He's also a big fan of slapstick comedy . . . a Three Stooges connaisseur. He loves to dance. He doesn't hold grudges. There is no facade or pretense in him. You don't have to intuit what he is feeling. His heart is front and center. There are some days I envy Matthew and wish I could see the world through his eyes. Other days I am sad for the things he'll never do and never be. But more often than that I pity those of us "normal" folks who have lost the ability to see through the eyes of a child. Those of us who forget the world is still a magical place. Those of us who are more afraid of appearing foolish to others than seizing the moment to live and laugh and love beyond reason. The dragons have always been there. The rest of us just stopped pretending. The world's harsh realities tend to try to suppress the whimsy and creativity God put in all of our hearts at birth. Life is a beautiful dream and full of mystery and wonder and most importantly grace. And when I start to believe otherwise Matthew always reminds me of what's real and good and true.