When I was around 8 or 9 years old, my mother had been sick for some days. I asked my father “when will Mummy be well again?” He said, “If you write a letter to God to make Mummy well, she will get well soon. God responds to small children very quickly.”
I took his word and tore a paper from my school note-book and wrote a letter to God asking Him to make mummy well. I even decorated it with small sketches colored with crayons to make it appealing for God to read. Then I went to Papa and asked him for a stamp. He said that letters to God did not require stamps. So I simply glued the edge of the paper, folded inside like an inland letter, addressed ‘TO GOD’ and posted it in the post collection box near our house. I was still unsure if the letter would reach God without the stamp. But in my heart I hoped it would. I waited for a reply too. Each time I heard the postman’s bicycle bell, I would run out to see if he had got a letter from God. After 2 weeks Mummy was fine, and I gave up on receiving a reply from God, and gradually stopped thinking about it.
I kept hearing about God from people around me, but like I could see or communicate with people, I was not able to see or talk to God, let aside the possibility of receiving letters! God seemed to me, some distant power residing in some far off heaven whom I may or may not be able to see. But with life catching up, this search didn’t seem to hold any meaning, as ‘He’ didn’t seem to be concerned with the daily events of my life, except calling up on Him before appearing for the exams. Yet whenever the talk about God arose, it stirred me. I wanted to ‘see’ God, at least for once, and know who this, that the world speaks of, to be so great, looked like.
Until after 4 years, we had a seminar in school. This seminar was to be conducted by Father Ivo Fernandes from the Holy Redeemer Church. All from my class were required to attend this seminar. I was curious and hoping to know about God from this holy man. After all he held an authority in the church and was supposed to know about God. When the seminar started to roll on, the subject of God came up, and this was my chance to express my concerns. I told Father that I could not see God, and inquired how it was possible to see ‘Him’. At this he replied that ‘just as milk contains butter in it, but is not visible unless the milk is churned, the world had God in it but He cannot be seen. He had given an appropriate answer as per my state at that time, but that too didn’t seem to satisfy me, as I kept reasoning with myself that the butter still becomes visible at some point, then why not God?
The discussion, however, was carrying off too long and it was difficult to convince me how God would be visible, so he dismissed it to proceed with the seminar. Seeing God seemed like an eternal mystery, solving which was something I didn’t know how to go about so I kept postponing it for reasons that were not clear to me then.
Over years I kept meeting all sorts of people, ranging from theists, atheists, agnostics, fanatics and god-men. The broad range of views brought huge insights, opening to me a new reality each time. Each reality seemed to have an element of truth to it. Books and literature on related stuff too brought fresh viewpoints, or rather old view points seen in newer light.
These revelations through people, books, and other sources kept enriching me, until this discussion with my son. It happened one day that I asked him what he thought about God, I wanted to know his views. His reply surprised me as to how he had been knowing the views I had held and how his simple reply undid it in that moment, “Ma, God is not somebody in some far off heaven, God is very ordinary, found everywhere. I see God everywhere.”
Hearing this made me inevitably compare the views of my childhood days to his… it had been a long journey from ‘far off heaven to everywhere’. I learnt that it wasn’t about what you saw but how you saw it that mattered.
Contributed by Jyoti Prateek