Recently, my great-granddaughter, Daisy climbed down from the seat on my walker as she said, “I want to help that worm.” Gently picking up the worm, she said softly, “Don’t you worry, little fellow. I’m going to take care of you.”
She and her baby brother both catch chickens and hug them against their little chests. That little two-year-old boy then gently kisses the chickens on their tiny heads.
And I say to myself, “If every human could be accepted and viewed with the value Daisy and Wren give to small creatures, we would be living in a kinder world.
I have spent more than a few of my 83 years trying to understand the word God. As a bit of a control person, I wanted an iron-clad definition along with a clearly stated explanation of how it all works. Living in a mystery did not suit me well.
When my two great-grandchildren go on nature walks with me, I pay attention to how they act and what they say. I wonder if a moment of total awareness of nature amounts to a sacred, God experience. The word ‘God’ then becomes a symbol of reverence.
Experiencing life does not require memorizing scriptures, creating definitions, or participating in rituals. With life experiences as a base, the word God becomes a way to communicate as I attempt to put awareness of life into words.
These precious children, ages two and four, treasure nature. Their experiences reveal their intimate connections with life. They come alive with interest in ants hurrying to their underground tunnels. Worms become close friends, to be handled gently. Rollie-pollies pretend to listen as my great-granddaughter explains items she sees on walks.
Confused about what the word God means? When I feel doubtful about my own understanding, I walk in nature with a child. I listen carefully.
Pay attention to a child’s concentration. The word God, which we will never understand, becomes the symbol of experiences that place us within the sacred. If we allow children to show us, we will find ourselves surrounded by the unknowable and mysterious concept we call God.
Words and images from members of Jim Rigby’s Sunday School class at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas.
Two great-grandchildren to demonstrate what the words mean.