I think we all encounter whispers to do things; these whispers are gentle, intangible forces that suggest we go this way and not that, speak boldly or hold our tongues, pursue this dream or remain at rest in everyday realities. Many call these gentle forces a conscience, and the well-spring of this conscience is a mystery. The Christian believes this conscience is the spirit of God himself, which is a pretty profound thing.
But if I supposedly believe this force is the Spirit of God, why do I so predictably and habitually ignore it?
I teach a short story titled “Borges & I” by a Spanish writer named Jorge Luis Borges. In the story, the speaker confesses to slowly and steadily giving himself over to the external persona that has been defined for him by society. In the end, he is lost, confused, and beaten; he is controlled by the “I” that has been created for him by others. His true identity must resign itself to this external persona; he has completely lost sight of who his “I” really is.
Could it be that we ignore the whispers of our conscience because we have lost sight of who we really are? Could it be that I ignore the whispers of the spirit because there are louder, more pressing forces hissing the lie that I must become someone else in order to live a life of value? That I must sacrifice my essence in order to become my good name?
This is where Katie comes in.
I have lived the past eight years on the extreme-periphery of a life with someone with special needs. I feel foolish even attempting to write about this topic, because I know very well that I write as an outsider. I write as someone who has not been immersed in the gritty realities of this life, and therefore as one who is more susceptible to skewing truth to fit my own needs. And- final disclaimer– I am especially wary of ascribing “goodness” and “meaning” to things in any attempt to rationalize them. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” makes me quite uneasy; believing “everything happens for a reason” robs me of the incentive to spit Injustice in the face when I see it.
My sister-in-law Katie has Prader Willie Syndrome. (You can read more about Katie and prader-willie syndrome in my mother-in-law Anne’s blog). I believe Katie is teaching me about creating Peace & Life, or, to use Christian terminology, how to bring Heaven to earth.
Heaven will be here when every individual willfully and unceasingly listens to the Spirit of God. And if my identity has become my external persona, my reputation, it becomes virtually impossible to do this. In this sense, this part of Katie’s spirit is living in the Kingdom– she is so much closer to Real Life than I. She is operating in Heaven’s Frequency because she is not marred by the false expectations that others have created for her. She is either blissfully unaware or willfully apathetic to those expectations– or more likely– some gracious combination of both. I so deeply envy this. Her spirit is so much more suited for heaven than mine; sometimes I wish I could scrape off the layers and layers of falsity that have encrusted and entombed the Real Me. This envy brings me to tears, and I can only pray “God, please purify me like that.”