One of my fellow scientist mommies is facing a pretty big thing – which may be an understatement, but I am following her strict no-pity rule. She is in my prayers daily.
That whole statement “in my prayers” is something that feels strange for me to say.
While I hesitate to use the term ”rare”, I am one of those unusual scientists who also views myself a person of faith. Divine providence, in the daily pursuit of our profession, takes somewhat of a back seat. And rightly it should. We work within a paradigm that can only function with full carte blanche to question, to argue, to test, to push, and to push back. Contrary to the shy pocket-protector-geek stereotype, science is not a place for wussies with thin skins. We are a skeptical lot. That’s what makes us what we are.
One of my personal heros, evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould (an atheist who also penned one of the most eloquent defenses of faith I have ever read) , wrote about his personal experience with cancer and the humane dilemma of the clinician. When faith and hope are such a strong components of successful outcomes for patients with life-threatening medical decisions, is full disclosure ethical? When should the lantern of knowledge be chosen over the beacon of hope? When does bad news rob the patient of one of the factors that most insures their survival? If you have never read his essay where he synthesizes these warring responsibilities, please click on the link and read it. He demystifies the statistics that instill us with mind-robbing fear and place reason and hope once more hand in hand.
Independent of my vocation, however, I believe in God simply because I do, and I cannot imagine NOT believing. My conversation with my Creator (and I use the term in its broadest sense), is a running dialogue that began with my earliest conscious thoughts and continues on a daily basis to this day. If pressed however, I will say that I am “spiritual”, but not religious. While I inherently believe in a divine and benevolent God, I have a general mistrust of people who claim to be speaking in his name. The phrase “I speak to Him every day, and he never mentioned YOU” comes to mind. The reason the word “prayer” comes to me with difficulty is that it implies a formality that doesn’t seem to apply to our conversations. My relationship with the divine is intensely intimate and personal, but if you run around telling people you talk to God, it isn’t long before the men in the white coats come to take you to a peaceful place.
It is this running conversation with God, and the illogical belief in the hand of providence, that forms the center of my ability to perservere in times of crisis. I place my faith and my hope upon an unseen power that each dawn will see a better day. Even when all evidence is to the contrary.
1 Corinthians 13:13 “and now there doth remain faith, hope, love — these three; and the greatest of these is love”
I think Paul, in his Epistle, was giving faith and hope short shrift.
When we face the dark paths of our life, days where evidence and common sense tell us we have no business treading, it is faith that carries our great weight, it is hope that lights our way. It trusting that when we stumble, it is our family, our friends and, yes, our God, that will steady us, hold us and guide us through the blackness. What people for whom faith is an illogical answer to a crisis fail to understand is that those of use who derive our inner strength from the intangible do not do so blindly. We are, by and large, fighters. We will not go gently into our good night. When placed in the path of a speeding train we will step aside FIRST, and thank God later.
But we will thank God, if not for divine intervention, then for granting us the presence of mind to get the heck out of the way. So, for Whymommy, I will pray that she seeks and receives all the best weapons in our scientific arsenal. That the boundaries of what we know and what we can accomplish are pushed forward for her. And I pray that at the end of the day, when she is weary from fighting the good fight, that the light of her faith and the force of her hope will take her into the next day. And the next. And the next.
Always knowing always that hands and hearts surround her when she stumbles.
Always knowing that she is never in the dark alone.