Does God Live Here: August 2011

Does God live up in the sky, amongst the clouds?

As the 767 soars above the sky, my six-year old lifts the window shade looking at the amazing blue around us, with puffs of white clouds scattered like cotton from an old pillow. She looks at me joyfully and asks, “Does God Live Here, Daddy?“

When you are a child, you are likely to believe many a story about the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or even or where “heaven” is ~ thereby having a distinct impression of where God’s “home” is.  As time passes, and we experience discrete pain, or disappointment – we question many of these beliefs, and come to our own conclusions about the mysteries of the Wishing Well.

As my children grow up, I watch their innocence being washed away, layer by layer – through experiences they have – or, just by watching TV or listening to a friend. Recently, my sixteen-year old asked me if I knew the meaning of Rihanna’s song “S&M”.

As I was growing up, in the black & white TV days in Bangladesh, the world used to be quiet simple. We watched The Saint, Hawaii Five-O, or Star Trek – the bad guys always looked ugly, the good guys looked like they were personally chiseled by God. There was a defined “good” and a “bad” – the world always ended up safe because some valiant person invariably, saved the world. We always went to bed knowing that tomorrow, the world would be safe – because of our parents and all the other good guys, who would ensure that the sun comes up safely and the sky remains blue.

As one grows older, and becomes a parent – and learns that we have to save the world now, and keep it safe every day – it’s quite a responsibility! Every night, I make sure I lock the doors, turn off the outdoor lights – turn on the alarm and go to bed worrying about burglars.

Recently, during a personal crisis, I talk to a therapist about worrying that I am taking many actions on behalf of my children that, I am concerned, may not always be taking the “right” steps. She eloquently tells me, “children don’t come with instruction manuals” and that, I just have to trust my best judgement!

It’s so much easier to make a multi-million dollar decision at work – with Six Sigma data, facts and factoids – advisors and confidants. You look at the rational outcome possibilities – pick the least risky option and wham , a decision is made!

When it comes to life, and your children – you intuitively try your best to make the right decision every time. You try to locate  a home in a good neighborhood so that they have good friends; you try to find the right schools for them; you try to take the right memorable vacations,  that combine both fun and learning.

But at the end, you really don’t know the cumulative outcome, of all those micro decisions. The mysteries of the world have influences on them and even your own complicated, decision-making process. Sometimes, horrible tragedies (like an accident or a disease) overcome us; worldly incidences like job loss, alcoholism or addiction, hinder our thinking process.

At the end of every day, after we have saved the world (the best we can), we come home, jump in the pool, splash around with alligators and mermaids, buy make-belief hamburgers from the make-belief snack-stand, and hope that wherever God lives, she keeps our children safe and healthy. We wish for their eternal happiness – just like our parents did for us.

My dear Shania, I believe, God lives all around us and within us. Wherever she lives, I know God will protect you, even when I am not there.