My Daughter and God

An Essay

by Justin Cronin

Wow. I'm speechless — for so many reasons. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family, Justin.

I too am speechless! What an amazing story, though that word does not seem right. God is good and I hope Iris finds that out. Bless you all.

I will be praying for Iris.

A moving story, very well told. I often thought about my own daughter that the danger in teaching our children to think for themselves is, of course, that they will. But I'd rather have that than have unthinking acceptance of everything I believe. It takes more courage in our society to be an atheist than to be a believer, and Iris is courageous. As Thomas Jefferson said in a letter to his nephew, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."

Thank you, Justin, for this incredible story. As you describe the spiritual journey you and your family have traversed in the time since the accident, I found myself reflecting on the stories I've heard throughout the past 12 years of ordained ministry as an Episcopal priest. We never know when we will encounter the exceedingly thin veil betwixt us and the Mystery that some of us call God. If I have a quibble with "organized" religion it is that it has too willingly exchanged the risk and rawness of faith for a pseudo-certainty which will not hold when the bottom of our lives falls out. Thank you for your willingness to narrate a spiritual journey that is still unfolding -- for you and for all of us, whether we recognize it or not.

Well said, Estelene. I respect Iris's choice . She seems wise beyond her years.

What an interesting story. I was once in a horrific car accident and survived, much like your family. I was only seventeen at the time and felt invincible. Now at fifty-two I know that is not the case. I find God in the small things, wind whispers, a rock I find interesting, my children's laughter. Iris is on her own journey, and I will pray that God will continue to work in her life. She may not want to hear it now, but as Proverbs tell us, teach them the right path and when they are older they will not leave it.

A beautiful, harrowing story, beautifully told. Thanks for sharing your family's journey.

Thank you — I truly enjoyed the ride.

This was a completely engrossing read. Thank you for that.

This is probably the best explanation of what it means to have "faith" that I have ever read.

A wonderful story!

This story brings up questions for me. What is a miracle? Is winning the lottery a miracle? What is the opposite of miracles? And whatever they might be, is "God" responsible for them as well?

Thank you, I don't have the ability to use words like you, but i'd like to convey that I have appreciated all you've written, especially this. God bless and keep you, Mr. Cronin

This is such a difficult topic, because, of course, the inspiring idea of divine intervention in a fortunate life, in a situation caused by a well-meaning lapse in judgment, has serious implications for the occasions where completely blameless individuals suffer unspeakable losses. I note that the author maintains skepticism about an intervening God, and I feel the piece is more about gratitude, and the consolation of seeking meaning to existence in the face of mortality, but there is no avoiding the sense that it seems to be about a purposefulness or design as well: something intentional, including who lives and dies and when and how. Maybe my reading is wrong. I would never wish to discourage anyone from having a full and grateful heart in response to this kind of profound experience, but musings on being saved, spared, or delivered from what he goes to some trouble to report as an otherwise certain fate invite painful questions. A three-year-old son of a devout mommy blogger recently stepped off a curb while trying to catch a frisbee, and was immediately killed by a truck. An Amish family was struck by a texting driver, with the children in the buggy being thrown out and killed. What are the implications of these examples, if we apply some kind of God-invoked meaning to this mother and daughter surviving? Everyone, of course, only has a responsibility to process their own experience, and embrace their own truth, without an obligation to weigh the larger world. I don't mean to be disrespectful, and only offer this comment in support of the thoughtfulness and validity of Iris's world view. The piece is moving and lovely on the durable joys of family, and children, and love.

Although I remain a skeptic, this is a marvelous, thought-inspiring essay. I've had 81 years to come to terms with this subject and it still remains an open question. I share much of the author's background: a fallen-away Catholic, someone who gave the church another try while in his late teens, early twenties (to no avail) and someone who raised his children (two wonderful daughters) to choose their own way when it comes to accepting a religion or not.

Unlike the author, I was educated in science (physics and earth sciences) and spent much of my life teaching what I'd learned (both academically and in several research positions) at a community college in southern California. It's unlikely I'll become a religious person before I die, but I haven't given up on the idea of an omniscient force or being that is outside our physical universe. But it's only an idea. I cannot bring myself to believe it. In other words, I lack what religions refer to as "faith."

Maybe I'm just waiting for my own private miracle. Thank you, Justin Cronin, for sharing your miracle so eloquently.

To Virginia Webber,
Yours is a very thoughtful and honest reply. I cannot imagine that the author would find your reply disrespectful in any way. I would imagine that he's quite agree with you.

Just saw this today posted on Facebook. This is a lovely piece of work. I was raised in a Bible church and have had to come to terms with the fact that I don't agree with much of what I was taught is true and right. I do fervently believe in God and Jesus, but I find them both in glorious sunsets, the stars on clear country nights, the mountains of Montana, and the love I share with my husband . . . not in any church building. Religion is not for everyone.

Well, I finally finished reading this beautifully written essay, which I started reading very late last night. I've enjoyed two out of three of your Passage trilogy, and eagerly await the third. Being a great fan of yours, and also a person of faith, I really appreciated this essay. It is beautiful and honestly written. Thank you for sharing with us all. I'm praying for you and your family. I look forward to City of Mirrors. God Bless.

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