Faith & Volcanoes

by Kate Dugan

When my husband and I decided we were ready to begin thinking about having a kid, he texted me a reference to a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks classic, Joe Versus the Volcano. In the 1990 movie, Tom Hanks plays an uptight, nervous wreck diagnosed with some fatal disease.  He gets an offer to travel to a far-away place in exchange for having to jump into certain death at the end of the adventure. Meg Ryan is his light-hearted companion and eventual love interest.  At the very end of the film, the two have to jump into a volcano, not knowing the outcome, not knowing whether they will live or die, not knowing if their love will get  a chance to flourish.  They grab hands and jump in.

My husband’s text told me he was ready to jump into the volcano with me.

I laughed a bit at first; chuckled at the idea of having a child being akin to jumping into a probably-fatal volcano.  But as the due date draws closer and closer, the analogy doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.  We are jumping into the utter unknown (to us!) and all we know is that we are doing it together.

Today’s second reading from Hebrews is all about  faith—“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen,” writes Paul.  He gives examples of the faith of Isaac and Abraham and even Sarah as models for today.  What strikes me about Paul’s lesson to the Hebrews is that having faith seems an awful lot like jumping into a volcano—you don’t know what’s coming and you don’t even know if it’ll be good for you.  But, still, faith compels us to believe in and act on the unknown.

What I didn’t realize when my husband and I got pregnant was how often I would turn to faith in thinking about this baby.  Faith that we will be good parents, faith that we can raise a healthy baby, faith that our love for one another will seep into our baby’s selfhood, and faith that jumping into this baby volcano is a good idea.

I don’t have any idea what to expect in the coming weeks and months.  But it does seem to me that having faith just might be my most useful tool.

Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back. “Tadpole” is due in early September.

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