Man of Science, Man of Faith

That is the title of the first episode of LOST season two. It’s one of my favorite Jack-centric episodes, sharing the spotlight with White Rabbit and Do No Harm.

In this episode, Jack is fully portrayed as a rationalist, a man of science, and someone who doesn’t believe in miracles. In this episode, he fails to repair the spine of a patient. All reasons and facts point to the truth that she’ll never walk again and yet, at the very end, she wiggles her toes. It’s a miracle, she says. And Jack just stares in disbelief.

There was a curious line of dialogue in the middle of all this. After Jack explained the risks of the procedure — that she may never walk again — his father pulls him aside, chastises him for his inability to give good news to people and says, “people are more inclined to hear that one percent chance that everything is okay”. Jack then counters that he is not prepared to give people false hope.

I had a similar moment today.

A mother and father met me to report the condition of their son. In all this talk of A(H1N1), their son is currently downed by dengue. Severely. He is under strict orders to remain in bed rest. He is incredibly weak (his heart rate is down) and a full recovery may take a long, long time.

The parents sought my advice on what they can do for their son. I went through the things they must do — write the Director, send a copy of the medical certificate, relay to teachers — and so on. I assured them that we teachers will accommodate their son in every way. Worst comes to worst, he can apply for a leave of absence and Pisay will welcome him back.

But none of this seemed to comfort them. They just nodded their heads in agreement, as if taking orders to go to war. They got what they needed to hear, but not what they wanted. Then the time came to say goodbye.

My first impulse was to tell them that the class will know about this. We will work on something for him. We will pray for him and hope for the best. Tell your son that I expect him back. He’s a part of us.

And they smiled. Their eyes lit with hope and appreciation. But did I just give them what they wanted to hear? I realize that there is a certain truth that parents want to hear, that primarily, their children will be okay. And that even if I never knew their son as well I would want to, he is a part of me now.

Hours after our talk, I received a text asking for me to pray for her son. And you know what? I did. The cross washed over me like a warm blanket but I didn’t hold on to it. I passed it on. I’ve had many hopes in the past months and I’ve always sought strength from forces greater than me, but I’ve never prayed. Not in the manner taught to me so many years ago, but in the manner I’ve learned in the past years. I don’t pray because I never pray for myself.

I pray for others.

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