“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 18:3-4
“What does E-A-S-T-E-R spell?”
At 5-almost-6-you-know-my-birthday-is-coming-up, Nick is a pretty good reader. But there are still words that he needs help with, especially when they are on a calendar suspended several inches above his head.
“That’s Easter, buddy.”
“God is alive! God is alive!” He Lord-of-the-Danced all the way from the kitchen to the living room, looping once around the dining table as he flailed his arms with unabashed joy.
I envied him the purity of his belief.
My grandmother had shared this type of faith. “Not so loud,” I muttered as her operatic soprano rose high above the subdued voices in our Naper-thrill church. Though she lived in Trinidad, she spent every summer with us, and while I had never noticed her voice before, now that I was 13, it was the only thing I could hear. “You’re embarrassing me,” I added, thinking, in my delusional teenage state, that was that.
She stopped signing and turned to me. “I’m not singing for you. I’m singing for God.” Then her eyes were back on the pulpit, and I swear her voice was deliberately louder. “Raise you up on eagle’s wings…”
I don’t know how my grandmother came to find God. With 75% of her body burned from a grease fire in her 30’s, how could she still believe in a greater good? I never got a chance to ask her – by the time I had started my spiritual inquiry, she had passed away (and was now, hopefully singing directly into God’s ear as opposed to projecting from this terrestrial terrain.)
I didn’t understand it then and I struggle with it now. But at least, after 10 years of Catholic eduction, I still have my go-to saints:
St. Anthony for my keys and parking spots (if it can’t find one, then it’s lost).
St. Joseph for our condo that wouldn’t sell in a down market (upside-down Joe moved it in a week).
St. Blaise for a sore throat (ok, that and lemon tea).
In my 40’s I’m still muddling my way through the Middle Way which seems an intellectual pursuit at best. I crave the simplicity and steadfast conviction that comes with the kind of faith I witnessed during a call-and-response gospel concert where the people in front of us expected Jesus to knock on their day any day now.
“Who’s that at the door? UPS again?”
“Nope, it’s Christ. Tell the neighbors to pick up our mail.”
The way that Nick skipped through the house, he could have been saying “the sky is blue” because he had seen it and knew that it was true. But in our house, logic and facts rule, so no, Nick, the sky is not actually blue. That’s the Rayleigh scattering. The sun does not actually rise and set. That’s the Earth’s rotation.
And because I have said it, it is true.
Yet who am I define what he believes?
Tonight, I will pray, even though I don’t know who is listening.
Let him be a child.
Let his simple, unwavering, unquestioning belief – in God, in me, and the world as he knows it, be enough.
Be more than enough, for both of us.