Thursday, April 14, 2011

Loving the Questions…Which Just Leads to More Questions, and Occasionally an Answer

Now that my son can read, I find myself having to explain even more of the world to him, things that are not easily boiled down and for which I usually have unsatisfying (to his mind) answers.

J: Why does that poster say ‘No Strings Attached’?
Me: Oh, uh… It’s just a silly movie.
J: Have you seen it? What’s it about?
Me: No, but I read about it and it’s silly.
J: Well, why is it called that?
Me: OK, here we are! Time for school!

Last week, he pulled his children’s Bible from the shelf and read the first few paragraphs of Genesis, I think because he liked the space-explosion theme of the illustration. Why, he wondered, was there a description of the creation of the world that differed from what he’d learned about the Big Bang, the soup, and all that? I think these conversations are quite fun and present so many opportunities to discuss how and why people tell certain stories, how and why we seek to explain our world. St. Cyprian’s not being the kind of place where reality is handed to you, he’s missed certain “religious” messages, like God made everything in six days and that was that.

The boy is also fascinated by space and dinosaurs, no surprise, and we treat evolution as a given around our house. But rather than seeing all these other possibilities and variables and alternatives to God as arguments against the divine, I see them as ways to highlight Jesus’s messages about how we humans are supposed to be manifesting God’s love here on Earth. I may get struck down by lightning (or get a reproving look from the good reverend), but it seems to me that Jesus didn’t actually come here to “save” us by his own hand. He came here to tell us that we had the power to save ourselves. When we acknowledge the incredible gift of divine, unconditional love, seeing our own and others’ worth, we experience grace. Manifesting that grace is how we ourselves can help make everyone’s time here on Earth so much less trying.

That is a message I should still try to follow if tomorrow I met a dinosaur in Golden Gate Park or aliens from outer space landed in my backyard. —Jennifer Wolfe

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