The Washington Post yesterday offered a fascinating report of a young mother’s attempt to introduce her four-year old daughter to the notion of god, even though she herself had given it up. She knew that the “notion” of god was part of the culture her daughter was being raised in and wanted to help her to understand the idea with a broader based viewpoint than she had experienced during her youth in a mainline Protestant denomination. (See link at conclusion.)
One dimension of this issue was the use of gender in reference to god. She explained the use of “he” as a traditional choice but would occasionally use “she” to show her daughter that gender when describing our Source was “neither male nor female.” At one point in the exchange the young girl has gotten the hang of the free-play which is possible with word selection and, instead of concluding a prayer with “amen,” she playfully…being gender sensitive…concluded with “ah…carrot.”
This was beautiful parenting. This mother, have done her time in religion, including evangelicalism and even fundamentalism, had learned the nuance of language and was gently teaching her child of the beautifully fluid world that she lived in. But what she was also doing was teaching her child that all words, i.e. labels, are useful but only refer to “things” and are not the “thing-in-itself.” The beauty of this gracious mothering is that this young lady, just beginning to formulate an identity, would learn that her very identity itself, the core of her being, could not be confined to words and her spirit would not be endungeoned within a conceptual prison.