Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ditching Faith

I'm no biblical scholar. But I've always been mesmerized by the story of Abraham and Isaac.  As you may recall, God commands Abraham to bring his son Isaac to an altar on Mount Moriah and bind and sacrifice him.  At the last minute an Angel intervenes, and Abraham is directed to slaughter a ram instead.  It was an exercise to test Abraham's faith.

Only after cradling my own newborn in my arms, do I fully understand the impact of God's request.  To sacrifice one's offspring is the ultimate in brutality and repugnance.  I could no more willfully place my child in harms way than I could drown myself in a bathtub.  As the oxygen escapes my lungs my body will arise reflexively regardless of my own best intentions.

A parent will ditch faith a million times if it is required to protect her child.  This is our basic instinct.

The hardest part about being a physician is learning to cope with culpability.  In many ways my families are like Abraham.  They carry their loved one to my altar as if in sacrifice.  Their faith is strong and unwavering.  But unlike the God of the bible, I myself bow to an imperfect Deity.  My brain is frail and my judgement is prone to error.  The tremor of my hands is inconsistent.

Sometimes, however, I feel like I am Abraham.  And I am standing all alone on Mount Moriah with my beloved Isaac in my arms.  I bind him loosely and kneel as I place him on God's altar. 

I pray that this is more a test of my own durability and knowledge,

and less a sacrifice of the poor soul that lies in the ICU bed next to me.

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