By almost any standard definition, I am a woeful Christian. I attend (irregularly) a liberal-leaning, liturgical church, because I love ceremony, metaphor and story, and because it orders my otherwise unbridled time. I like how it forces me into community with people I might else not associate with. I like singing the hymns and I like communion. When I can't get behind a single article of faith, I can always get behind the simple truth that "we many are one body, because we all share one bread, one cup."
Neither is my participation merely intellectual, though I am glad to have found a church where intellect is welcome. I have had a few true, numinous moments in the pew and on the altar step, when, like Carl Jung, I didn't believe, I knew.
But if someone were to ask me about my relationship with Jesus Christ, I would quite frankly choke. Relationship? Uh. Um.
Maybe all the gory Jesuses of my Catholic childhood spooked me. Everywhere I looked at school and church there was a crucified, bleeding Jesus, whom the priests and nuns assured, died horribly because of me.
It was a bit off-putting.
I know a lot about Jesus. I'm just not very Jesus-y. The word "Jesus" doesn't exactly roll off my tongue. He's not really part of my vernacular.
So I was surprised yesterday how natural it was to reach for some of the words ascribed to him when my children were speculating about the nature of heaven.
"Maybe you come back and live in a different form," my seven-year-old posited.
"Maybe it's another dimension," my nine-year-old said. "Maybe heaven is like a wormhole that brings you really close to God, really quick."
"Maybe God is already really close," I offered. "Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was very near."
"Maybe it's all around us!"
"Maybe," I said. Someday I will tell them and youabout one of my numinous moments on a New Brunswick beach when I vividly knew this to be true.
My nine-year-old was caught up in the quantum grandeur.
"Maybe God is so big, he's holding our whole universe in his hand."
Well, it's nice to think something or someone has everything well in hand. It's only natural to want your god to be mighty. No half-assed, minor deities for me, thanks. In phone trees and in prayer, I much prefer directing my complaints to whomever's in charge.
Mighty is good. Especially when you are small. But I wanted them to know something else.
"Know what else Jesus said?"
"He said that God loves us so much, every hair on our heads is counted."
Those words always remind me of the first few days after each of my children was bornthe dreamy, long moments spent gazing over every cuticle, every fold of skin.
"I love you more than I could love anyone, or anyone could love you, and I don't know how many hairs are on your heads. So maybe God is not just big and everywhere, but so close to you, he can count your hairs."
Maybe he loves to bend over you and breathe in your hair in the mornings, I thought. Maybe she smoothes your hair at night when you are asleep.
But I don't want to interject my ideas or even Jesus' ideas about God too much in their questioning. I want them to keep asking and keep imagining new answers. I think the Jesus of my understanding, the one who said a person needs to think like a child in order to understand heaven, would back me up.
Labels: mine all mine, soul and spirit
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