Shortly after my father passed away I took my daughter – who was about 5 at the time – to the cemetery where he was buried. She stared at his grave, puzzled. Then she looked up at me and asked, “If Grandpa is down there, how can he also be up there?” She pointed at the sky.
I don’t know who had talked to her about the concept of heaven, but clearly she felt it was in the sky, and that was where Grandpa now resided.
I probably mumbled something about his spirit being in heaven but the truth was that my own beliefs about God and heaven were fuzzy. It took my father’s death and my daughter’s question to nudge me into finding a spiritual home that was a good fit for my family.
I found that home in the Unitarian church, a liberal religion where each member is encouraged to seek out beliefs that feel true and right for them, so now I am always on the lookout for descriptions of God that fit with my own notion of what God is. I was on a Maui beach when I stumbled across the following passage from Signals, by Joel Rothchild . So fitting.
“God is present everywhere, so we are all collectively part of God. It is as if we are all infinitesimally tiny grains of sand on a giant beach, and the beach is God and we each have a responsibility to polish our own grain of sand so the beach is as radiant as possible.”
And here is another one by Forrester Church, from Everyday Miracles.
“The power which I cannot explain or know or name, I call ‘God’. God is not God’s name. God is my name for the mystery that looms within and arches beyond the limits of my being. When I pray to God, God’s answer comes to me from within, and not beyond. God’s answer is ‘Yes’, not to the specifics of my prayer but in response to my hunger for meaning and peace.”
And now I am off to ‘polish my grain of sand’.