At 14, he is the 7th child in our blended family of 8. He has been brought up in a Christian tradition, but has had lots of influence from school, peers, older siblings, extended family and friends. He is a lover of different cultures, and especially likes reading about Hinduism. He is sometimes apathetic toward the idea of religion and spirituality. He is intolerant of what he sees as unjust traditions in which certain life choices and lifestyles are considered "right" or "wrong" by organized religion. And yet, here we stood looking, if only figuratively, toward heaven.
Not one to miss a chance like this, I told him I was surprised by his reference. He smiled and swept his arm toward the water and sky. "How can anyone look at all this and not believe that there is something so much bigger than us at work?" We talked more as we walked. We differ on the details of how we envision God. We differ on the details of how to worship. We both readily admit that our views change almost daily. Yet we agree that there is comfort in something bigger. We agree that we see God in the ocean and sky, in trees and earth, in wind and even snow. We agree that we've seen and talked to angels...some airy and otherworldly and some right among us. We agree that it is a blessing to be part of a bigger picture and not to have to orchestrate every little detail of our lives. Reluctantly he agrees that even church is a comfort, that it feels good to know that we have a church family pulling and praying for us in times like these.
We got back to the car and smiled as we realized that neither of us felt the need to shake the sand off our feet before getting in. We rode for awhile in silence, unspoken questions filling the space between us. Finding middle ground in humor, we joked about the lump on his neck that had just been biopsied. We assured each other that it was probably nothing. I worried about the worst case scenario. He later admitted that he did too.
Throughout the week, we were touched by the kindness of others. We were thankful for those who were brave enough to ask about it, those who prayed and those who listened. Yesterday, we got the call that the tissue samples are benign. Relief and gratitude flooded us all. Doctors will still need to identify where the growth is, and it will have to be removed. But it is benign.
Being a parent has taught me that we are not exempt from illness, death, addiction, fear, broken bones, wisdom teeth or emergent meetings at school. Although I rejoice in my child's clean bill of health, I weep for any parent who has to hear the word malignant. I ache for anyone's loss of hope. I worry. A lot. I pray. More. I breathe in the reality that even if we had been faced with the "worst case scenario", my son has faith in "something so much bigger". I hope that his life and those of his siblings unfold magically, beautifully. I hope that he will always find solace in the sand, the earth, the sky, the sea, the wind. I hope that in good times and in challenging times he will hold fast to the idea that it's okay not to understand his faith. It's alright to get frustrated and downright mad when love seems to fall behind duty or tradition in spiritual pursuit. I hope he will trust his heart and allow it to lead him forth. I hope he will always be able to look at the sky and see a stairway to heaven.