“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss
“We think of children as vulnerable. In my experience, they’re giants. Their bodies and souls are amazingly resilient. What we often mistake for fragility is their openness…” -Fred Epstein
I recently had the great honor of sitting down with two groups of school children and asking them how they glimpsed God in their lives. First, I went into my son’s kindergarten classroom and next into my daughter’s third grade classroom. They are both students at Immaculate Conception, a Catholic school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I wish to thank their loving and amazing teachers, Mrs. Donnellan and Mrs. Fadness for the opportunity.
What I immediately noticed during these interviews was the ease with which these children approached my questions and a certainty in their answers that made me smile with wonder. For children of this age, questions of faith, God and spirituality are not yet loaded. Their answers are filled with love and optimism, hope and joy. Conversation moved fluidly between deep thoughts and ridiculousness. There was a lot of giggling and silliness during these sessions. After all, “Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun.” (Mignon McLaughlin.)
Who is God?
God is actually everywhere. So he can pretty much never be late for something because he can be everywhere at the same time!
He is the father of Jesus.
He listens to us because he is in our heart and by our side.
I think God is at the Children’s Museum for sure.
What does God look like in your imagination?
Mine is handsome and loving.
My God looks like he is ready to listen to you and not interrupt when you are going to talk!
He looks excited and reasonable.
What do you mean by reasonable?
Pause– well if I did something kind of bad, he would be reasonable and understand.
How big is God?
As big as the sky! (Gesturing wide with her arms)
36 inches tall.
I think God can be big and little at the same time.
He is as big as our heart.
He is as big as all of us together.
How has God shown up in your life?
One time I gave my heart to my brother. How?
It was magic and God helped. Why?
So my brother would be safe and love me.
How old is your brother? Zero
“One time I got hurt and it really hurted. God helped me to feel better. He is way better than a Band-Aid. He makes us all better and he even made himself. We get a cut and it heals. It is magical and God helps that.”
(Side note: this story led the kindergarten class into a litany of playground cuts, scrapes and bruises for a good 10 minutes. I am in awe of teachers who can lovingly redirect!)
“When I was 2 my Pop-pop died. Then he went to heaven. I kind of feel like he is right by me all the time but I can’t see him. I don’t know why that is but that is just what I feel. When I think of him I get a little bit of water in my eyes. Maybe Pop-Pop is my guardian angel.”
Who are angels and what do they do for us?
They protect us and keep us safe. They help us to be kind and nice to others. They are messengers of God.
They nudge us at lunch when someone is sitting all by themselves to go over and talk to them.
My guardian angel’s name is Sally.
What is prayer?
A way to speak to God and calm yourself down.
A way to ask God to help you in hard times.
A way to say thank you to God.
What are you thankful for?
My brother (pointing to his twin sitting next to him)
That our cuts heal.
For the fish wedges we had at hot lunch.
For the sun!
For the rain.
For the Barbie dream house and Barbie but maybe not as much for Ken.
Writing up this “Glimpse of Spirit” made me feel happy, light and hopeful. These kids seemed to have many answers that we somehow forget as we grow.
What does God look like in your imagination? And what is the name of your guardian angel?
I end with some incredibly wise words on perhaps how to parent in a way that supports our children’s wisdom and spiritual openness as they grow. What would our world look like if we never forgot the wisdom our heart’s already knew as children?