First Glimmers of God

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Backyard diggingTwo white boulders rested in the grass in my backyard as a child. I hoisted them up at times to ponder the variety of insects underneath and appreciate all the life teeming in the soil. Roly-polies, centipedes, spiders, and earthworms creeped around under what appeared to my eyes as an impossibly heavy thing pressing down on them. Things are not always how they first appear, or even how they most appear. That is how I first realized anything about God.

As I pondered the life teeming under the rocks, I considered the rocks themselves. It seemed that the rocks must have some sense of being a rock. How could an object occupy some space and not have some sense of itself? Certainly not the same as I have about myself, but a sense just the same.

So considering the rock’s sense of rockness led me to discern that I believed in an intelligence underlying everything, a consciousness that sustains things and animates not only what we consider alive but everything that exists. As I stared at matter, I never felt totally convinced that it was completely stationary. At times, it even seemed to have a frenetic energy, and I did not believe that what appeared on the surface was solely the reality inhabited by any given thing.

I next remember asking my mother about the soul. I don’t even think I had that word yet, but I know that is what I was asking about, and she was very impressed with the question. She told me that people had been thinking about those types of big questions since the beginning of time.

My family did not practice any religion. At the time I asked my mother about the soul, she simply responded with encouragement to continue asking those “tough questions.” I became rather enamored with my own existence, the fact that I had one, that I was conscious and able to be conscious, and that every other person in the world had their own unique consciousness as well.

Another key moment occurred when I started questioning truth. I knew my life would come to an end at some point. The truth existed that it would occur at a particular point, and that that point existed from the moment of my conception.

To put it another way, when I was conceived, it was also a fact that my body would die, and this moment was an objective point that would eventually happen and that that point was known by someone. To me, this indicated the existence of an objective truth, despite my own free will. I also believed that an intelligence, a level of awareness, knew when that was, and that’s how I understood God. Rather than distant, this God seemed intimately personal, which I only now can put words to.

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine;
the world and all that is in it, thou hast founded them.

Psalm 89:11 RSV

What about you? When did you first start see glimmers of God and  begin to have a sense that God exists?

May God bless you during this time of Lent.

2 Replies to “First Glimmers of God”

  1. Looking back on the early part my life, there wasn’t any God, no mention whatsoever. My dad was not religious, nor was his parents who died when my dad was only 23. My mom turns out went to Catholic school 1st – 12th grade, but fell far away from the church. By the time I came around, there was no religion, no church, no Jesus, no Bible, no prayers. Nothing.

    My earliest exposure to Catholicism occurred maybe when I was 3 or 4 years old. My mom’s mom, Grandma Mary, lived only a few blocks away and we visited there often. She had all these pretty figurines and small busts of a beautiful young teenage girl around her home. Some figurines the girl wore a white robe, and others a light blue robe, but I knew each one was the same teenage girl. Of course I wanted to touch them and look at them from all sides, because teenagers are cool. In one of her two times Grandma Mary was stern with me, she warned me not to touch any figurines and to only look with my eyes. I remember this because it was the first time Grandma Mary frightened me; she then hugged me and said it was now time for us to go into the kitchen and have some angel food cake because I was a good girl again. All was right in my preschool mind.

    One figurine really intrigued me. The pretty girl was in a light blue robe, had her hand pressed together, and her eyes looking down and away, but her right barefoot was stepping on the back of snake’s head. The girl had a calm smile, but boy was that snake mad! Its mouth was wide open, fangs out, eyes on fire, and it looked like it would bite the young girl if she lifted her foot. And both the girl and snake were standing on top of the water part of the world! And to top this off, the pretty girl was smiling and seemed not to be worried about the mad snake or falling into the water.

    This made no sense to my preschool mind. But this figurine really intrigued me. I thought it was weird and a little scary, and yet it captured my fascination. I would get my bravery together and go up and touch this crazy thing without Grandma seeing me, just to see what would happen (nothing). Other times I stared at it, trying to make sense of it, wondering what in the world was going on, and why didn’t she wear shoes, and why didn’t she care that she was about to get bit by a snake, and why neither of them were falling into the water.

    I didn’t ask my mom or Grandma to explain this crazy thing, because I was afraid if they knew I was interested in it, they would watch me when I was around it and shoo me away. Then I wouldn’t be able to sneak in a touch, or study it to pass the time. Or worse, Grandma would put it away so I wouldn’t be able to see it ever again.

    Monumental things happened in the public school district during the summer between 3rd and 4th grade, and I began 4th grade in a Catholic school. Only after attending the Catholic school for a while did I learn what that statute was, who the teenage girl is, and what was occurring.

  2. Wow, Mindy, such deep thoughts and questions at such a young age. I hope you took some philosophy classes in college or somewhere along the way, because you sound like you have a very philosophically minded intellect. I found this story interesting, you actually put words to things that I had not ever been able to articulate. I remember, too, as a young girl questioning my existence and wondering about it and wondering if others ever thought these same things about themselves or others. I was not brave enough to ask questions though. I grew up in a Catholic family, but religion wasn’t really discussed, it was something we did on Sundays and for religious ed once a week and otherwise, it wasn’t really part of our life.

    Anyway, really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your powerful words!

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