Just got back last night from my fun-filled weekend in LA. Still thrilled that I don't live there anymore. It's always a great thing to come back to San Francisco, especially when there's a happy white kitty cat awaiting you at the door.
My niece Cloey has just started kindergarten and my brother and his wife decided to send her to Catholic school. Not because they are hard core, but mostly because they considered it to be the best school in town and the choice seemed to fit her. I must say that I agree.
When I arrived at their house on Sunday, Cloey and Fiona proceeded to show me all their new and old toys, things that I may not have seen in the 10 months that I have not visited them. One of the items that Cloey showed me was her statue of the Virgin Mary. Later on, she asked me to read some books to her. She pulled out her children's Bible and opened it to the chapter on Jesus's crucifixion and asked me to explain to her what the men were doing and saying to Jesus. I finally had to explain that Jesus was a very smart man who fell on some bad luck, that not all stories are happy and turn out fairly. And then then I grabbed the nearest book or toy that I could find to distract her from this fixation.
But Cloey wanted to know more. She turned to the resurrection. In the book, there was this typical illustration of an old man with a halo dressed in white, sitting on a cloud, welcoming Jesus into the Heavens. Cloey informed me that that was God. Because of my studies in world religions, I of course had to explain to her that God doesn't necessarily look like that. Cloey disagreed.
"I've seen God," she informed me.
"In many churches that I've been to," she explained.
"And what did he or she look like?"
"No, God is a He. And He looks like this," she said, pointing to the picture. "Tantie? Have you seen God before?" she then asked me.
I thought about how to respond to this. I thought about how to explain to her my current interpretation and definition of God. When do I feel the presence of God? When do I invoke God's name? When do I find myself praying? What kind of God do I believe in?
"Sometimes I see God when I watch the sunset, or see a field of wildflowers, or a butterfly, or when I go to the ocean. I see God in other people, in my friends and the people I love."
"Oh," said Cloey. And then she picked up her sister's pink toy electric guitar and showed me how to play some tunes.