"Can I go to vacation Bible school this year?"
That's the echo heard all around the globe. Yes, summer means it's time to attend vacation Bible school!
And most churches provide one if they're able. How awesome it is to see children's eager, smiling faces as they re-enter the world after spending mornings or evenings participating in the wholesome activities available there. "But what makes it so appealing?" some ask.
Onlookers find their answer when they see children's faces tilting toward the sun and saying, "There's God," for they've just learned about God.
"Vacation Bible school offers skits, games, Bible stories and teaching, songs and camaraderie," I could answer. Indeed, few children fail to enjoy the encounter for they do learn about God. Some may have believed God and Scripture were boring subjects before the experience. Skits based on scripture are performed and children wonder how people, back then, were so much like they are today. Yet, how could Jonah have survived in the belly of the whale? (Jonah 1-3) How did he breathe? Wasn't it pretty nasty in there? Those questions must dance in their heads as they sit, attention-bound, listening to such tales. They ponder how Christianity ever became so much fun.
"Well, they may even come again next year," children muse. "Especially if Bible school keeps on being so much fun and they learn so much. Where is God, really?" Many say God is found in loving others. Others say God is discovered in nature. Some venture the Almighty is found in a newborn baby. But where can we truly find God? A young boy in a poem supplied the answer to that query. The poem began: He was just a little boy, on a week's first day. He was wandering home from Sunday school, and dawdling on the way. He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar. He found a fluffy milkweed pod, and blew out all the filler. A bird's nest in a tree over head, so wisely placed on high, was just another wonder that caught his eager eye.
A neighbor watched his zig-zag course, and hailed him from the lawn; asked him where he'd been that day and what was going on.
"I've been to Bible school," he said, and turned a piece of sod. He picked up a wiggly worm. "I've learned a lot of God."
"M'm, very fine way," the neighbor said, "for a boy to spend his time. If you'll tell me where God is, I'll give you a brand new dime." Quick as a flash the answer came, nor were his accents faint. "I'll give you a dollar, mister, if you can tell me where God ain't." (Internet)
Often, indescribable wisdom comes from the mouths of babes. There's nowhere God can't be found, for God's everywhere. One needs to only look around, feel the blood running through his veins, marvel at the scenery that only God could fashion and see a bud open up, to find God. "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change." (Buddha)
We would know, then for sure, that God was within everything.
Often during our busyness we fail to genuinely live in the present where God is. We fail to listen, "notice" and pay attention to the now. Being aware is vital to finding God -- awareness of what God's saying and showing to us. God is everywhere but we must be open to the Holy Spirit as it whispers and gently probes.
The spirit is mild rather than aggressive. One must lean his ear to hear what's being said. Famous author Henry Miller says: "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
For God is there.
Ellen Shuck is director of religious education at St. Mary's Cathedral Parish.