I am not a church-goer.
Not sure what I believe when it comes to the concept of God.
I am ashamed to admit I have taken "the lord's" name in vain more than I have spoken to him (or her) on my knees.
I wasn't raised with the walls of organized religion; and we are not bringing our kids up within a particular affiliation.
When we stay with Nick's parents, we occasionally attend their warm inclusive thought-provoking Methodist congregation, and I see the beauty in being part of a community of believers.
Its just not a part of me. Not in my past or present anyways.
I was raised with the beach and the woods as my spiritual places and sports teams as my community of one. And I'm Ok with this, as nature and my teammates have come to my aid in desperate times.
The consistent rise and lowering of the tides gives me faith, the sun's return, hope, the way grown players hug each other after a particularly hard fought win, devotion.
This is enough for me. Along with poetry, art, stories, and relationships deepened over time.
And I do believe is some sort of spirituality, I just can't articulate it in words. Not sure if it can be contained or explained in a way that follows the rules of language.
But Olive asks me, yet again, "Is God real?"
We don't talk about God at our kitchen table, our bedsides, and yet my curious girl listens and absorbs and wonders about the all knowing one. She is forming her own relationship with divinity, separate from me.
"What do you think Olive?"
"Then God must be real," I say, as I did this summer when she asked the same question on a drive from Anchorage to Seward. When we spoke about God being inside us all, as well as in the mountains and the trees.
I can't give her a more definitive answer.
And I guess I want my daughter to form her own understanding, just as my parents wanted me to form mine, free from doctrines and dictates, even if it means stumbling in the brush for awhile, uncertain who to call out to in the darkest of nights.
I know when one-pound Elias lay in the isollette, unable to breath, a brain bleed, surgery pending, I prayed to every god and goddess, with or without names, with no formal structure to my words, more of a broken-hearted Mama's love song for her son born four months too soon.
I crooned for my baby that was suppose to be warm and wet in my womb.
On the morning of his brain surgery, I put drops of liquid gold in my coffee, like a tonic, a witch's brew, as if my milk had the power to save us all. Anything goes when desperate without memorized prayers in my pocket for reassurance-- I am open to the world of possibilities, stars to wish upon, sticks to cross, striped rocks tossed over my left shoulder into the mighty waves.
And then there's my baby girl.
Olive already, at six, almost seven, seems quite at ease with her spirituality.
She is an artist at heart, a creator, constantly cutting and taping paper and cardboard to make new things. She recently drew a picture, that she didn't want me to take a photograph of so I am respecting her wishes, that showed people of all sizes in a circle holding hands, in the middle of the circle, a rolled piece of paper stood upright, where she taped a large rainbow-colored eye to the top of the tower.
On the bottom of the page, she wrote: "The circle of God".
She taped her artwork to the top of her bureau, moving her bin of pajamas to the floor to make space for the eye of God and all those folks holding hands as one.
And there it sits, watching over her as she sleeps. As she dreams her own religion into the world.
My girl, and yet spiritually, individually, not mine.