The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me. –“Stigmata”
Like all Catholic schools, Religion was taught as early as First grade. I can still remember my book with images of clouds, and a man in long beard and a dove or was it a bird I forgot how God was taught by the Belgian nuns. I recall God to be someone powerful who watches over me, yet there was some sort of fear of being a bad little girl. In my little girl’s mind, I looked around for God. Where is he?
As the second sibling in the family, I looked up to my eldest sister, Lorna for her words of wisdom. I took her every word, well because she was a year older and knew more than me. Naturally.
I tugged her sleeve. “Do you know where God is? ”
Lorna nodded and dragged me to the kitchen. She pointed to the leftover mango seed on the kitchen table.
In a solemn voice, she said, “When you crack open the mango seed, you will find God in there.”
My eyes widened, “really?”
Her revelation elated me. God is real.
One day, I thought of talking to God. I got a mango seed ad sat by the window sill that overlooked the garden and slowly pried opened the mango shell. As I opened the shell, I felt awed. I found God! My body felt like a balloon as if I was floating around the garden. It was a joyful moment.
My little girl’s heart cried out in gratitude, ““Okay God. I hope you protect me. I promise to be a good girl.”
I know this “Where is God?” anecdote is really funny. Lorna laughed as I recounted the story to her. She forgot that she taught me this.
I grew up praying to God every day and attending mass at the Catholic Church every Sundays. It seemed too routine until a friend introduced me to the bible and told me to read the book of John. I just knew that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and everything in the bible was true and good and I wanted it in my life.
Pretty soon I had kids of my own but I made sure that God was something that my children felt in their hearts. It had to start with something more tangible at first.
I see the moon and the moon sees me,
God bless the moon, and God bless me.
As a nursery rhyme, I felt the toddlers understood God to be good. Two of my three children suffered from asthma and letting them understand that “Jesus lives in their hearts” so they would calm down and feel more relaxed in prayer. I also felt that it will heal them faster if they are in a relaxed state of mind.
I guess the real test of my faith in God came when my beautiful son died 11 years ago. Questions soon came:
Where were you God?
Why me God?
Every parent who lost a child or a loved one ask these questions. I know now that the feelings of “Why me, God?” are real. My pain is real. The questions form part of the grief process. Well-meaning friends often like to point out not to question God’s wisdom. So easy to say especially if that person has not lost a child.
While God may have seemed distant during those bleak moments of my life, it was God who also showed me the light in the quiet still of the room. As I sat on the Luijoe’s favorite couch, feeling despondent over our family situation, I felt a warm tingly feeling that emanated from within me and then feelings of peace and joy. That difficult journey left me literally with a broken heart but not too broken because why did God give me a second wind in life to make a difference in this mortal world? That light…starting and living a new life without my precious son but still living a good life.
It is these good and bad moments that affirmed that God is good, all the time.
While I continue to believe in His words and His teachings, I may not necessarily find God in Churches , disillusioned and disenchanted as I am with the Catholic Church on its stance with the Reproductive Health Bill… but that is another story.
Today, my new dialogue with God is … “God, this is going to be an interesting journey. I’m excited to see how you are going to bring good out of this one. I trust you will!”
Photo credit: and here and here