All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I never tried to fly when I was younger. I did, however, try to walk on water.
Whenever I was out by the family pool alone, which was often when I grew into the double-digits, I would perch at the end of the diving board, take a deep breath, and step off.
With my head underwater, I was always disappointed. But not devastated.
Kicking myself to the surface was, after all, where I had expected to find myself.
That’s why I held my breath.
* * *
When I was in eighth grade, my middle school did a production of Peter Pan. I was close friends with a couple of the Indians, and I knew Jane well, so I went. And I remember sitting in the auditorium and watching Peter Pan race downstage in tights yelling: “Clap your hands if you believe in fairies! Clap your hands if you believe in fairies!”
I knew who Peter Pan really was, and I could not believe he was doing this, but he was. So I clapped my hands along with everyone’s parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters.
And the audience’s belief brought Tink back to life.
* * *
As a child in her double-digits, I knew the truth. And it was not a question of whether faith allowed humans to walk on water or not.
The truth was: If the stakes had been higher than a diving board two feet above the water’s surface, if the stakes had been deeper and wilder and murkier than a family pool, then I never would have tried that trick of faith.
* * *
In the Gospel of Mark, a father runs to Jesus and begs him to heal his son, free his son, from an impure spirit. The father says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Jesus says, “If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes.”
The father responds: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”
And Jesus drives out the spirit.
* * *
I always imagined humans needing to ask God to help our unbelief in one, defining moment of salvation. Maybe in loud moments of sickness, death, and despair. The situations where we are so human and helpless that we see no other decent option but to turn to God.
But my testimony is not so clear as the road to Damascus, so I find myself pleading with God in the quiet moments. The moments when I find myself on the edge of a diving board and watching ripples and wondering at the miracles of tear ducts and eyelashes and blinks that send saltwater tears trailing down cheeks.
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.