Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Mom, God is not a person, he's a Power Ranger, right?"

This is what happens when you haven't quite figured out how you were going to explain religion to your children.

Or your lack of it, I suppose.

I am married to Chris, a former Catholic, and I am Jewish, though I haven't been the best at attending services regularly, or really even contemplating my relationship with God, as I've been knee-deep in diapers the past couple of years. Not that that's an acceptable excuse, considering all He's got to deal with up there and still listen to everybody's kvetching about their tax returns and leaky roofs and such.

Anyway, regardless of how we got here, we're now at Question and Answer time, hosted by Reese, a four-year old who grills as unreservedly as Tim Russert:

"Where is God?"

"Is he a he, a she or what?"

"Why can't I see him?"

"Have you met him?"

"Is he scary?"

Panicked, I called my good friend Stacey for answers. So she put her six-year old, Adam, who attends Sunday School, on the phone with Reese:

ADAM (SAGELY): God is in your imagination, Reese.

REESE: Nope.

So much for peer counseling. Then we scoot by for a few religion-free days until when, in the middle of washing her hands for lunch, Reese calls out to me from across the house with the doozy: "God is a Power Ranger, right?"

This is when we sit down as a family and chat about the whole faith deal in greater detail. Fortunately, Chris and I are on the same page with our story - everybody has a different idea of what God is, it's OK to think of him as whatever makes you feel good, he is not a person, he's in every good thing, he's in your heart, he's a power...

REESE: A Power Ranger?

Ah, now we see where the waters were muddied. Our previous broad "powerful force, not a person" explanation has been morphed by pop culture and out has come God as action figure. I can just hear my Bubbie turning over in her grave.

US: No, Reese, not a Power Ranger, just a power. Like the wind and the ocean. It's called faith, beliveing in something to be true even if you can't see it. Like love.

And then, as Reese is wont to do, she explains the whole concept back to us and we do not recognize any of it, not a word that sounds anything like what we said. But, at least, she's seems satisfied with her understanding - whatever that may be.

As I clear the lunch dishes and the whole group has gone outside to play, the question of God's existance put aside in favor of soccer balls and two-wheelers for the moment, I cannot shake the feeling that there are questions here that one day will need answers, even if it means simply helping our children find those answers on their own. And while Chris and I never wanted to impose our views on our kids, I realize now, they are still going to seek them, whether or not they want to claim them for their own. We are going to have to reexamine our own spiritual lives, in order to have an answer, even if it's only to say, "I don't know, let's find out together."

Luckily, there are things we do know about, unquestionably. Things I know about. Movies, for instance. Reese and I just watched the "Wizard of Oz" for her very first time and she fell head over red sparkly heels for it. Now, when I'm putting her down for bed, she takes my face in her hands, older than her years, and says to me quietly, mantra-like:

"There's no place like mama. There's no place like Daddy. There's no place like Finnie. There's no place like home."

To this belief, to this faith, I know I can agree with all of my heart, and with no reservations. Our beliefs, for now, are one and the same.

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