By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
Add a big plastic pitcher to your bath time routine for God’s sake.
Every time we try to talk about who God is our own not-knowing gets in the way. All of our language about God is approximate, relational, and metaphorical attempting to describe the something-more that we experience in this world. And so we say it the best we can, “God is rock and redeemer. God is shepherd. God is light inaccessible. God is as close as a deep breath and as far as the farthest side of the galaxy, wherever that may be.”
Children sometimes have trouble with metaphor but sometimes it’s the water they swim in. Children who are often so literal somehow simultaneously have immense creative freedom when it comes to naming who God is and how they experience God in this world. They have a capacity to see, a basic ability to connect spiritually, and to be in tune with the God who is so mysterious. Because of that it seems critical to engage that sense of wonder dwelling in and experiencing all things sacred with them.
Try it at home using water. Water is so easy to connect with and it is so simple, elemental, and so close to our sense of who God is and how God reaches out to us. And it’s at the heart of our very first encounters with God in the sacrament of baptism. Add a big plastic pitcher to your bath time routine. Let the water pour out loudly so that it cascades down and splashes into the tub. Say, “God’s love is deep and wide.” If you know it, or if they know it, sing “Deep and Wide.” Sing it again, getting faster and faster every verse until it’s all a surge of speed and a fit of giggles. Then ask them wondering questions: I wonder how God is deep? I wonder how God is wide? I wonder what God’s love sounds like? I wonder where this fountain really might be? I wonder if you’ve ever been close to a fountain flowing deep and wide before? They will help you come close to God as God draws near to them.