I wouldn’t say I’m religious; I’m not the type to say grace before a meal or cite Biblical stories for any purpose other than explaining literary allusions. I grew up going to Catholic Church, but sometime after the Bishop gave a ridiculous speech at my confirmation about R movies being corrosive to the spirit, I gave up trying to find relevance between myself and the Church’s beliefs.
Ken and I never had any deep discussions about how we would raise Nora in terms of religion. I guess we both assumed that we would let her learn about faith and religion on her own and choose for herself what she believes and wishes to practice. I never really thought that talking about God and saying Amen would become a routine part of her toddler life. As part of the ritual each day at her Methodist daycare the students and teachers recite grace before both morning and afternoon snack and before lunch. Three times a day Nora folds her hands together and recites a prayer.
This weekend I bought Nora a new baby doll, one with hands that appear folded, fist-like. When we got in the car after purchasing her, I asked Nora what she wanted to name her new doll. I may be mistaken, but I swear she said “Grace.” I didn’t believe my ears, since I didn’t really think she even knew that word, let alone that it is a name. But when I looked back at her holding her doll, she had the hands pushed together, like they were praying, and she was reciting, “God is Good. God is Great. And we thank Him for our food.” Maybe she really did say Grace. (When I asked her again later about the name she replied that her new baby was “Sweetie.” A more fitting sister name to “Honey” and “Fancy Fancy.”) Grace is a part of her life and routine that I didn’t plan and that I don’t often think about.
Tonight, on the changing table as Ken wiggled her into her PJs, Nora folded her hands and yelled, “GOD IS GREAT!” She explained that she “likes to say it loud,” and repeated, “GOD IS GREAT!” again. Ken asked her if that was how she said it at school. I got a comical mental image of her screaming the prayer while all the other pious children bowed their heads and recited the grace angelically. “No,” she said, “I say it quiet.” She then proceeded to say the entire grace quietly. Ken told her she should slow down and teach him. She didn’t comply and the moment passed.
One day I’m sure Nora will ask who and what this great God is. I’m not sure even religious parents have ready an easy answer to that question; but, as a non-religious one I’m not sure exactly where I would start that conversation. I have a while yet to ponder that one, though. For now God is a part of a rhyme that she says over food.