Monday, March 10, 2008


Weren't we all such proud agnostics in high school? So jaded and sarcastic! We wanted to believe, of course, but who could accept something so fundamentally implausible as God without proof?

Then, once I had kids, I began to feel, for the first time in my life, as if someone were watching over my family. There were just so many things that could have gone catastrophically wrong, but didn't. Twice - during his escape phase, before we managed to put the entire house under lockdown - Jonah was picked up by a police officer walking along the busy road in front of our house. Once, he got away from Andy in Costco and made it all the way to Toys R Us, about a third of a mile along a commercial road, before we found him. He was never hit by a car, or snatched by a stranger (although I always thought, with a weirdly inappropriate sense of pride, God help the stranger who snatches Jonah). He's punched through at least four glass windows and never even needed stitches. Then there's the scary circumstances around Hilary's birth, when a little voice made me, who never confronts doctors about anything, change my OB at 30 weeks because I was so sure something was wrong, and the receptionist at my first practice wouldn't give me an appointment less than a week away - and it turned out Hilary was in heart failure, and had to be delivered by emergency C-section, and spend the first two and a half months of her life in the NICU.

But that's not faith. That's gratitude.

Now, I've come to understand what faith is. Faith is the belief in transformation, without any real evidence to support that possibility. For many people, the central transformation is that from body to soul, from death to afterlife. For me, now, my faith lies in the transformation of my son at the hands of the doctors and therapists at the hospital where he has been for almost two months.

On the one hand, this might not seem like a matter of faith, because there's plenty of evidence this hospital has had a lot of success treating problem behaviors such as the ones that necessitated Jonah's admission. But I don't just expect him to stop throwing aggressive temper tantrums. Just consider the changes we've made while he's been away: we're in the process of painting over all the Sesame Street graffiti Jonah's scribbled on the walls over the years. We've put family pictures out on display. Because I really do believe - even though the hospital has given me no reason to think so, even though these aren't behaviors Jonah's therapists are targeting - that when Jonah comes home he will no longer write on walls. I really believe he won't steal the pictures off the tables, stuff unflushables down the toilet, trash the kitchen whenever we leave it unguarded in his desperate search for the salt and vinegar potato chips he KNOWS we've hidden somewhere.

I really believe that when Jonah comes back, we will be able to do more things as a family. I believe we will be able to go out to dinner - to real restaurants, not just McDonald's - and on vacation, without bringing an aide along. I believe that life will be easier. I really do.

This is my faith.


Doesn't love a wall said...

I believe that faith is active. Almost verb-like, though I cringe at that being a former English Teacher.

I stumbled upon your blog and am loving it. You have a loyal reader here! I have only made it through this year's entries. I can't wait to uncover the mystery of why it is you're living together in the first place! :)

All the best!

Anonymous said...

Plenty of people are agnostics and atheists without being jaded and sarcastic.