February 25, 2014

The Life of Faith

Several years ago a 13-year-old girl devoted her journal to a kitten named Eclipse, which she’d received for her birthday. The title page of the journal appeared like this:

Written by

For Eclipse Sweetie, my new baby kitten

Here were some of this girl’s journal entries about her kitten:

May 3: Today I got my new kitten at 4:00 p.m. I am so happy that I have her. It took me all day before I chose the name Eclipse. I chose that name because when a total eclipse occurs, it becomes dark and you can’t see the moon; and when Eclipse is in the dark, she too disappears. Eclipse’s middle name is Sweetie because when I put my face down, she comes up and rubs against me. It is so very sweet.

May 28: Eclipse can jump very high, about four feet. I think she’s the prettiest cat in the world. I gave her a bath, but she didn’t like it. I dried her off and brushed her coat. Her coat was very shiny, like moonbeams dancing on the water at night. I gave her a friendship bracelet, she now wears it as a collar.

June 4: She is growing up so fast—I can’t believe it! I’m trying to teach her to stay, but it is pretty hard. She knows her name, but she won’t come to it. She found a way to climb to the top of my tent. It is so funny.

June 10: Eclipse is helping me fall asleep faster. Before, all I did was sit around and watch TV all day; now I watch her all day and play with her, so by the time I go to sleep I’m very tired and I fall right to sleep.

July 16: I got Eclipse for my birthday from Phil and Nancy. They did something that no one else would do for me. They paid $200 just so I could have my own kitten. For that I can never repay them.

So who wrote this journal about a kitten named Eclipse? Notice that the title page had a blank space after the words “Written by.” The girl had originally written her name, Jaycee Lee Dugard, but was told to remove it by the man who had kidnapped her two years earlier.

At age 11 Jaycee had been walking alone to catch her bus when suddenly a car pulled up beside her, and she was tasered. As she lay on the floor of the car, she heard a man say to a woman how he couldn’t believe he got away with it. Philip and Nancy Garrido kept Jaycee in captivity in their backyard for 18 years. Jaycee was sexually assaulted with regularity and would ultimately give birth to two daughters in that backyard.

When you first pictured a girl writing a journal about her kitten, how did you feel? How do you feel about it now? What changed—the gift or the giver? The gift was no longer a loving gift, because the giver wasn’t a loving giver.

There are times our view of good gets eclipsed by a dark body. Bad becomes acceptable, and good becomes completely lost. Humanity’s view of good—of God—can be so warped that we end up accepting gifts from the wrong givers. Brainwashed, we settle not for healthy relationships, but for any relationships at all.

When Jaycee was 29 years old, police got suspicious of the Garridos. Jaycee found herself sitting at the desk of a female officer at the police station. The officer repeatedly asked Jaycee for her name. Jaycee said that she couldn’t say it, but that she would write it down. Writing shakily, she formed the sacred letters once again: JAYCEELEEDUGARD.

“It was like breaking an evil spell,” Jaycee later wrote in her memoir, A Stolen Life. “[The officer] also had me write down my date of birth and mother’s name. I looked at her and said, ‘I can see my mom?’ She said, ‘Yes!’ ”