Saturday, March 31, 2012

Elephants and Existentialism

I'm not very religious. Well, that's not true. When you tell people you aren't religious, like I am telling you now, the first conclusion is usually that I am godless. Which isn't exactly true either.

I was brought up Catholic. And, while I learned many important lessons, the Catholic church is very rigid, very black and white. I tend to think of religion more in shades of gray.

David and Kate have had very limited exposure to God and religion. They have a sort of general idea of God and that some people go to church.

Lately, David has started to become more sensitive to death. There's a cemetery in town that we pass on occasion and it usually brings forth some sort of conversation or question, or even tears.

A recent conversation we had:

David: Oh. Mom. It's a cemetery. There's dead people there.
Me: That's right David.
David: I don't want to die.
Me: Well, you won't until your very old. You know how grandma and grandpa go to church -- they believe that after you die you go to heaven and live with God. And some people believe you get reincarnated -- which means you get reborn and live again - as a person, or cow or elephant, or whatever. And, I'm sure other people believe other things happen after you die.
David: I totally want that one. I want to play video games forever. (laughing) Not as an elephant though.

One thing that I've tried to explain to David is that when someone dies, it is sad. And, we will miss them.
But, the memories we have of that person don't ever die and we can always keep them with us.

As the kids have gotten older, somethings have gotten easier and some harder. I am no longer changing diapers, I can trust them to play together reasonably well, but our conversations, the questions they have, have become more complex. Sometimes the questions they ask, I don't know how to answer. And I stumble through the response. And wonder how I could have answered it differently. Because I know the answers I give them will effect how they view the world.

So, I try to keep an open mind.

And hope David and Kate learn to keep an open mind.

Because there is a lot of gray out there.


  1. The thing about these questions is that they come with no warning. Just suddenly there you are in the middle of your day worrying about coffee or whatever, and suddenly you have to explain something you don't really understand. I enjoy the way they make me think, though.

  2. I do too. And I think, sometimes that it helps me, when I'm trying to explain something to the kids, especially something I'm not so sure about ... Like religion, or why things are the way they are ... It helps me to think about things in a new way, or even more clearly.