As a child, I often puzzled over the things I learned about God. I imagined God to be the kindly and caring Creator who appeared in our children’s bible. I still remember the rendering of our benevolent Maker looking lovingly upon Adam and Eve and the menagerie of animals provided to keep them company. My experiences at home confirmed my impressions quite dramatically.
I was only five when my uncle became ill. The 1950s offered no antibiotics to fight pneumonia. The curvature of my uncle’s spine further complicated his condition. As a very young child, Uncle Gee contracted polio which left his body severely bent and compromised his breathing. When he first became ill, we gathered in the living room to say the rosary every night. We prayed for our uncle’s recovery until it became evident that he would not survive. One evening, my mom changed our intention from “a full recovery” to “a happy death.” Because this dear uncle lived with us, his looming loss devastated us. My dad responded by assuring us that all would be well. My dad held us close as he explained that Uncle Gee was going to heaven. My dad insisted that everything in heaven is perfect and that God would make our uncle perfect, too. The pneumonia would be gone and his back would be as straight as can be. When my uncle passed away a few days later, I cried because I would miss him. Still, I knew that all was well. My caring Creator came through for Uncle Gee, just as God would for both my grandpas and my dad who passed away only a few years afterward.
As I grew into a second grader, I continued to puzzle over the things I learned about God. Though I had known about Jesus, I did not consider how Jesus fit into my image of God until the year I received First Communion. I listened carefully to all that Sister taught us about Jesus. When our parish priest visited our classroom to tell us more, I found that Father’s images of Jesus were most tangible. I liked what I heard. The parables Jesus told concurred with the image I had of my kindly and caring Creator God. All that Jesus said and did illustrated the magnitude of God loves for each of us. Young as I was, I found great joy and great consolation in the knowledge that, no matter what I did, God would always love me.
It was on or about my thirteenth birthday when the things which seemed so clear a year or month or day earlier become unexplainably murky. So it happened that I continued to puzzle over the things I learned about God. I realize that the adults around me to whom I had looked for guidance were not the perfect people I thought they were. What was worse, when I looked in the mirror, the sweet little girl I used to see had morphed into someone I hardly recognized. Though my mom continued to be a person of faith and Sister and Father continued to share their wisdom regarding God, I puzzled over my impressions of God all the more. Fortunately, Confirmation approached and becoming an adult Christian became the topic of the year. I had plenty to puzzle over as Sister and Father presented every sort of “what if” scenario. “How would an adult Christian respond?” they asked my classmate and me. In the end, we learned that our choices would grow in difficulty and in importance as we grew older. In the end, we also understood that we did not have to make difficult choices alone. God’s Holy Spirit would inspire and strengthen us, clarifying the situation and sanctifying our very souls until we made our way home to heaven. Once again, I liked what I heard regarding the constancy of God’s love for me.
This Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the wonder of God. Though my childhood musings cannot begin to explain the Blessed Trinity, they can explain the reasons we rejoice today. Ours is the God of Love revealed in the caring Creator who breathed life into us all. Ours is the God of Love who became one of us to reveal the true happiness found in caring for one another and in opening our hearts to Divine Love. Ours is the God of Love whose Spirit comes in the raging winds and gentle whispers which urge us on to be our best. Ours is the God of Love who loves and cares deeply for each and every one of us.
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