Peter and Julie always wanted to have children, and later in life, they adopted a little boy born of a mother who was a drug addict. The first months were difficult because Christopher had to stay in the hospital until his condition could be stabilized, but afterwards they traveled across the country to their home to begin a new life together, hoping love could repair the damage done even before birth.
The experience taught them about living a day at a time and learning to love at a deeper level, not to mention the importance of patience and compassion.
As Christopher grew older, they realized he had developmental problems and over the years, they took him for a series of tests with psychologists, educators and doctors. Eventually, he started special education classes and began to exhibit behavior that seemed uncharacteristic for a little boy – he always wanted to talk about God.
Whenever they passed a church, he would beg his father to go inside so he could talk to God and ask him questions. And when they took him to Mass, he seemed to display a reverence and understanding that was beyond his years. Sometimes he would stare silently at the crucifix or the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When they’d leave, he would often comment on the church and say things like, “I like it here; can we go back again?”
One day he was sick with a nasty cold, so he and Peter spent the day on the porch making fanciful creations with his Legos. Then, while their backs were to each other, Christopher asked his father, “Does God walk?”
Peter recalls that he “offered the quickest clichéd answer that came to mind” and responded, “God is always walking with you, Christopher.”
Not quite satisfied with that platitude, Christopher looked for confirmation, so he picked up Peter’s iPhone and hit the home button, and asked, “Siri, does God walk?”
Siri was even more evasive, and as Peter recalled, “She expressed a policy of avoiding comment on issues of faith.” Not to be deterred, Christopher posed a different challenge and asked, “Siri, show me a picture of Mary.”
He later asked Siri to show him pictures of God. In spiritual matters, his inquisitiveness knew no bounds.
Eventually, Christopher took his fascination with God to preschool, and his parents got a call from a teacher who was concerned about what he characterized as the boy’s morbid interest in God and heaven. What could be morbid about God and heaven?
Should there, could there, be prohibitions in preschool for talking about God? Were they afraid Christopher would evangelize the other kids or say something that would incite non-believing parents to protest? Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit goes where he will – even to preschool.
Peter was at a loss. When did it become unacceptable for children to talk about God? Would the system, which is known for suppressing expressions of prayer and religious belief, come down on his 4-year-old son the same way it did on young people who read the Bible, who talked about Jesus or who mentioned the Ten Commandments whether in elementary school, high school or college or on the playing field? He wondered: Was the teacher suggesting that Christopher be instructed not to talk about God?
A team of five specialists asked to meet with Peter and Julie about their son’s progress, and they feared the worst. But as it turned out, the meeting went well and Christopher got a reprieve once they realized his father was a journalist committed to freedom of speech – even when it came to God. (Sadly, freedom of speech in America usually only applies to people who attack God and religion.)
I’m convinced God was acting through this little boy to show us the absurdity of our ways. I thought of Jesus’ words, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants.”
Our so-called enlightened secular society, which prides itself on “inclusiveness,” isn’t inclusive at all because it has excluded the most essential thing from our lives – God.
A few days after I heard Christopher’s story, someone sent me an email titled, “A Prayer to Save America,” which said in part,
“O merciful God, we cry to You for pardon and for mercy.
We are an unbelieving and perverse generation.
We are disobedient, disloyal and ungrateful to You.
We have excluded You from our homes, our schools, our places of business.
We are no longer worthy to be called Your children.
Merciful Father, forgive us and spare America.”
J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.