The morning of our daughter’s wedding dawned cloudy and windy. Every time we checked, the weather predictions grew worse. Wind whistled through the tree limbs, whipping whitecaps across the lake beyond the house we’d rented for the weekend. Although weather portended wedding challenges, nature’s show was nevertheless exciting. I scooped up our granddaughter, bundled us in quilts, and cuddled her to me in a deck chair overlooking the water. We sat quietly for a few minutes, taking in the majesty and mayhem.
“Isn’t it funny,” I asked Olivia, “how you can’t see the wind but you can see what wind does to the trees and the water?” We watched the branches relax and then begin to sway once more as the winds picked up. “The Hebrew word for wind is ruach,” I said, “That same word also means breath or spirit. Some people say that the wind is God’s breath.” Olivia snuggled closer for a moment and then asked humanity’s eternal question, “Is God real?”
“It’s hard to believe something that we cannot see, isn’t it?” I replied. “You feel Mama and Dada’s love for you, yes?” She nodded. “Is it real even though you can’t see it?” Another nod. “Some people believe God is real. Some people don’t,” I replied. “I believe that even though we can’t see God, we see what God makes possible: the beauty of the world, the love that we feel for one another. Our holidays and Shabbat.”
When Olivia lived nearby, she would stay the night with us. Come morning, we’d go into the back yard and sing in Hebrew a morning prayer of thanks to God for giving us a new day. I am certain kids come into the world attuned to a Divine whisper. All too soon earthbound voices overtake the whisper. I wanted to maintain a space for Olivia to continue to be able to hear what so many traditions call the “still small voice within.” We shared one last cuddle before the cold drove us inside.
Before we knew it, wedding time arrived. The winds, which had continued all afternoon, were now joined by a sudden snow squall. Olivia refused to relinquish her role as flower girl. Shoulders hunched, hands dug deep into the pockets of her white faux fur jacket, she walked with determination despite snow now blowing sideways across her path.
Life will indeed buffet my sweet girl. From time to time capricious winds will blow her off course before calming once again. What might Olivia strain to hear within the maelstrom? Will she listen with yearning? With doubt? Turn a deaf ear altogether?
Is God real? How can I look at this beautiful soul that is my granddaughter, and now her little sister as well, and believe otherwise? I cannot.
Photo, “Storm on the Lake” courtesy of glindsay65, is licensed under Creative Commons