By Walter Lacey
“Do you think God is an old man with a long beard?” my father asked.
He was back home after a two month stay in the hospital where he’d been recovering from a major heart attack he had while on a family picnic. I’ll never forget watching him sit at the picnic table in agony, complaining about the pain he felt in his stomach and listening to him wonder aloud about what he might have eaten to cause his suffering. Because he was in so much pain, my mother drove us all to the emergency room where my father checked himself in.
During that two month stay in the hospital, I suspect he must have thought about his mortality at least once. It was sometime after his return home that he asked me my opinion about God. At age 10 and the youngest in the family, being consulted on such a weighty matter made me feel a little important. It was actually one of the few serious conversations I remember having with my father, aside from the disciplinarian “conversations” we seemed to have on a regular basis.
“No,” I answered. I really couldn’t imagine a gigantic man spanning the universe and looking at the world as if it were under a microscope.
“Do you think Heaven is a place that has streets paved with gold?”
“No, I don’t think so.” I couldn’t understand the appeal about streets paved with gold. Was it just because they looked so nice and shiny?
“Then what do you think God is like?”
Being 10 years old I understood very well what I didn’t think God was like—an old man with a long beard. But my concept of God was a little less defined:
“I guess He’s just everywhere. Invisible.”
My dad pondered my answer for a moment and then added his own take on God, which to this day I find so perfect:
“Maybe God is like a condition,” he said, “something like the weather. It’s all over the world at the same time, but different in each place.”
“Condition,” to me, is such a great word for a God that can harmonize with all aspects of Its creation, in any given place, at any given time. Especially with all of our various states of being: sickness, health, happiness, sadness, anger….From either good or bad experiences, maybe God extends to us what we need to learn. Maybe God’s just waiting for us to open our eyes and see.
Walter Lacey graduated from the University of Wisconsin where he attended the School of Journalism. He lives with his wife and two children in Massachusetts. His most recent work, a memoir titled “Connecting the Dots”, deals with the exploration of a past life and appears in BewilderingStories.com. Contact him via email at email@example.com.