Kaitlyn: Do you believe in God?
Dad: Yes, I do.
K: I don’t.
D: Why not?
K: I just don’t. I don’t see him. (pointing) He’s not there. He’s not there. Where is he?
My heart sinks with such a demand for hard evidence from my little girl. Is this some conversation she's heard elsewhere? I thought we were farther than this. But then even 5-year-olds can go through periods of doubt. I stay with it.
D: Well, some things we can’t see.
D: Just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Can you see the wind?
K: Yeah, when the trees blow.
D: That’s actually the effect of the wind, not the wind. The wind makes the trees blow, but we can’t really see the wind. Watch. (I blow into the air.) Did you see the wind come out of my mouth?
K: I could smell it! (laughs)
D: Ha, ha. But you couldn’t see it, right? That’s what God is like.
K: God is the stinky wind?
D: No. He made the wind? And you and everything else. That’s how we know God. By what he’s made and by what he does.
K: But you and Mom made me.
D: Okay, true. But who made Mom and Dad? (crossing my fingers, hoping she gets my drift)
A couple of days later, Dad is driving to Ikea with Kaitlyn, who is carefully observing everything as she loves doing from the back seat.
Kaitlyn: Dad, did God make the trees?
K: Did he make that? (pointing to the grand Alex Fraser Bridge rising above the Fraser River)
D: Well, yes, sort of. He made people with the brains and imagination to make the bridge.
K: Did God make that? (pointing to a big box store)
D: No, he had nothing to do with that.
K: But you said he made everything.
D: Not ugly things.
K: Then why are we going there?
D: To get some ugly things.
It was getting more and more challenging. After the conversation, I had to check myself. Is God the God of ugly things? Isaiah, when he forecasts the coming of Jesus says that Jesus would have “nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” and that he would be “like one from whom people hide their faces.” I.e. Jesus would never make the cover of G.Q. So, why should it be so surprising if he have a special affinity with ugly things?
Kaitlyn insists that the angels and shepherds in the Christmas story should get married. Does the idea repulse us? God's angels so intimately relating with smelly, dirty sheep herders who have dung under their nails? Does it repulse God? Is it merely a quaint suggestion, not to be taken seriously?
We can argue by our personal criteria whether certain things or persons are ugly or worthy of our esteem. We can argue whether or not God “made them” or approves of them. But it’s abundantly evident from the beginning of Jesus’ story to the end that God identifies intimately with all of it, beautiful and ugly, sometimes with compassion and sometimes with judgement, but always with love.
I started writing these posts thinking of them as interruptions of grace in the ordinary and mundane events of life.