Yesterday I was eating lunch with my six-year-old daughter, her friend, and her friend’s mother. We were all playing hooky. We got into some talk about God (I didn’t prompt it, I swear.) My daughter’s friend, Mia, is a believing Christian. Her mother, Frances, is an atheist, who was kicked out of Hebrew school as a child. Mia’s 11-year-old brother just started attending Hebrew school at a progressive synagogue, where he was assured it was fine not to actually believe in God. (He also took an informal poll of his classmates and came up with the figure of 75 percent of them being atheists.)
“She’s our little believer,” said Frances of her daughter, who attends church on Sundays with Frances’ mother, who has come to Christianity later in life.
“But you don’t believe in God,” said Mia.
“And that’s OK,” said Frances.
“Sometimes I do,” said my daughter, Margaret. “Sometimes I don’t.”
“Me too,” I said. “I don’t really know if I believe or not.”
“Believe!” said Mia, loudly, with a wild-eyed forcefulness. “Everything is God!”
“Sometimes I just say,” said Margaret, folding her hands in a prayerful position:
if you exist,
I forgive you.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the two people who had recently been seated at the table next to ours were getting up, it appeared, to find another place to sit. One was an Episcopal priest in a black suit and a dog collar.
Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.