This morning on the way to preschool, N was looking into a neighbor’s yard and stated, “Mom, everyone has that girl in their yards but not including us.” (Meaning “except for us.”) She pointed to the Virgin Mary statue on the neighbor’s lawn.
“Well, sweetie,” I responded, “that’s Mary. She’s Jesus’ mommy. You’re right that many people in this neighborhood have a statue of her in their yard, but we don’t.”
“But I want her in our yard,” N said.
“Well,” I said slowly, trying to think a couple of steps ahead in this conversation. “Some people have Mary in their yards because of their religion. Religion means what people believe about God. It’s not my religion to have Mary in our yard.”
“But I want her in our yard,” N repeated.
“Honey, we’re not getting a statue in our yard. ” Then I figured some clarification was in order. “I do like Mary, and I like God a lot. In fact, I think he’s awesome. He made the sky, the trees, the birds, and even us.”
N thought for a moment, then asked — with a touch of skepticism — “How could God possibly make the sky if he’s down on the ground?”
“That’s a great question, honey. I believe God lives in the sky.”
“But…how could God possibly make us if he lives in the sky?”
(Apparently “possibly” is the word of the week.)
I sighed. “Those are terrific questions, honey. In fact, grownups don’t even have all the answers to questions about God. So just keep asking them your whole life.”
I suppose we’ll start taking this questioning kid to church, so she can check out God for herself. My parents never pushed religion on me, and we don’t intend to do so with our girls either. But it’s time we introduce the concept and let N explore for herself.
As long as I don’t wind up with a Virgin Mary in a bathtub on my lawn.