Where does God live?


In a tree? In a mansion on the hill? In a shack? Or maybe in a row house in Iowa City?  Perhaps in a house made of boxes, in an alley in the Bronx, or Detroit in one of the many abandoned factories?  Or in a cave, under a beautiful waterfall? There is always the chance that God has his own private island. But I doubt it, doesn’t seem quite his style. Where does God live?  If this God we so often speak of and yet so rarely agree upon could reside in a humanly dwelling – where would we find him or her?

When children pose these questions – these big questions like: Why do people die?  Why is life unfair?  What does God look like and where does he live?  We are often paralyzed with the wieght of the question – suspended between our dedication to be truthful and our hesitation to say uncle and admit our own ignorance to our children.

For those of you new to this blog and unfamiliar with eStudio 473, after a quick look through the images you will see that I (Katie Clancy, the founded/director of this project) have been teaching art to a group of girls living in an internado, Buen Pastor, in Guanajuato, Mexico. The space is run by a group of eight nuns and exists in the name of Santa Maria Eufrasia.

I suppose it is also important to know that I come from St. Louis, Missouri, a town that both brims with Catholisicsm and houses my enormous Irish Catholic family. However, I was raised on the fringe of this construct. My mom and dad were not practicing Catholics…they didn’t actually belong to any church. Which spurred me into a strange childhood past-time of touring the Sunday life of all of my church-going friends. Then I would bring back various ideas and practices to my parents, who welcomed all of it and respectfully hid their amusement at my interesting perspectives on each version of Christianity.  The funny thing about growing up Catholic by osmosis is that I can’t seem to get enough of it. I don’t have this need to revolt, turn away or speak out against it. Yet, I definitely have my list of objections.

But as a whole, in some form I have always loved and been drawn to the faith. In a very different way…however, regardless here I am, working with girls that proudly and sincerely wear their rosaries and prepare for their Confirmations.  My admiration leaves me anxiously waiting for the next opportunity to interact with the menagerie of women that are the Madres.

Life is layered and full of irony. I have found that Buen Pastor is no contradiction to this truth. I have never felt such hope and love honestly offered and encouraged; nor have I ever seen such bravery, strength and flat out feminism exhibited in one place. And yet it still surprises me. They still have the ability to grab my heart and shake up all of my assumptions.

This blog: So…I had originally just wanted to share this beautiful podcast from Krista Tippett – on Being, a show produced by American Public Media, that I listen to religously. Hahahaha! I am my father’s daughter…

In all seriousness though, it is an inspiration to me time and again. I don’t find that one can say that about too many things in this time of media overload. So, I have included the link to The Spirituality of Parenting, an interview with Sandy Sasso, a Rabbi and author of children’s books.

However, this occurred months ago and I have been sitting on the “right moment” to actually publish this blog until today when I re-read it and remembered a moment that I shared with one of the girls this week…

It is a moment that I will never forget. It is about the spirituality inherent in children and our ability to help one another heal. I went to Buen Pastor this Tuesday, as normal, at about 2:30pm. However the journey there was blurred by teariness and the absense of my much-needed glasses. I was a bit of a wreck. I left the book I wanted to share with the girls at home and was unsatisfied with my paper purchase at the papeleria…all because I was having a hard day personally, not teacher Katie, just Katie Katie. So I debated all the way there on whether to trudge through or post-pone class. When I arrived I discussed the possibility of moving class with Tere (the social worker) and she said that it was fine. She encouraged me to go home and rest and not to worry.  Upon my effort to slip out undetected – I was spotted and then bombarded by my 2nd and 3rd graders. With their signature questions:”Are you taking me/us with you today? Who are you taking? When do we start class?” I tried to quickly and vaguely answer these, but then in a moment of clarity two of them looked at me and really saw me for just long enough to pause. And then they ran to me and hugged me and said, “Why not today Katie?” I said I was having a heavy day, feeling sad and I needed to rest so that I could have fun with them tomorrow. And they all said, begrudgingly that it was okay and hugged me a few more times and checked to be sure on the time of class tomorrow.

Then as I hugged “C”, a brave and sweet litte girl that wrangled my heart the moment I met her, I started to pull away to try to leave. Abruptly, she inhaled deeply and looked up at me, wide-eyed. Something had just occurred to her. She let go of my waist and grabbed me by the arms and pushed me out of the door, so she could do something in private. She then whispered something I couldn’t hear, purposefully touched each of my shoulders, then my head, then the center of my chest. It was only when she reached my forehead that I understood what she was doing. She finished the gesture as she touched my lips and returned her arms to encircle my waist. She then rubbed my back and whispered, “that is to help rid you of all that hurts you.” Immediately a wave of her story rushed over and through me. This child has struggled in unimaginable ways; I have watched her transform into a very different girl because of the care she receives at Buen Pastor. To feel her faith in this moment, to be given the thing that she feels is the strongest and most loving form of assistance, I began to weep instantly. I told her thank you and that I loved her so much. She did not waiver at the sight of my tears, instead she just told me she loved me too, told me to take care of myself and know that She is with me.

Now, with this story I do not intend to persuade you to convert or reclaim your faith, nor to start instilling it in your children. However, I do think it is crucial that we consider how we cultivate and limit spirituality in our children. As parents and as educators, it is something we often face with exaggerated conviction or fear instead of curiousity and love.  This podcast entertains the idea of focusing on creating a platform for discussion that allows children to openly feel, ponder and express their ideas on the subject. We can agree that we all want to raise loving, caring, open-minded and curious children. The pure and honest investigation of and self-driven development of our spirituality is no doubt instrumental in the fostering these qualities, yet we live in a time where we have become uncomfortable with this idea.

So… I suppose I am hoping to speak to all of the parents out there that I know and love, as well as hopefully to those of you whom I have never met, and encourage you to simply listen to this podcast and see if it inspires you in any way. Lastly, please continue to question everything, including your need for all the answers. That is the only way for us “grown ups” to keep on growing.

The Spirituality of Parenting

{If you fall in love with Being and would like another reccomendation, here is another favorite of mine}

Listening Generously: An interview with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen that examines the relevance of stories within the framework of the state of our physical health and their healing capability.

This entry was published on November 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Where does God live?

  1. Allen Cetto on said:

    Well i finally read this post. First… I love you and what you are doing. Second… I’m glad I was in privacy of my home so my emotion could flow freely… actually cry like a baby. 😉

    Of course… it wouldn’t have mattered if i was at home or not. Look forward to talking soon. Happy Holidays… Allen

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