This question challenges the most sophisticated philosophers and theologians. Humans are finite creatures, so bound by time that we cannot grasp the idea of something outside of time. The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges this difficulty: “Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking. … Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God” (paragraphs 40-42). The key word here is mystery. Children have a natural tendency to question and embrace mystery. Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has shown that it is possible to talk about God in simple language.  When a six-year-old Scottish girl named Lulu wrote a letter to God  – “To God, How did you get invented?” – her father, who is not a believer, sent it to Dr Williams, who sent the following letter in reply: Dear Lulu,                                Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this: Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected. Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – especially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like. But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions! And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off. I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too. What a profound response! It’s very much in line with the way Jesus talked. He told stories (the sower, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son) and didn’t resort to complex theological arguments.  When it comes to recognising God’s presence in situations and relationships, Patrick Kavanagh writes in The Great Hunger: ‘God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday. A kiss here and a laugh again, and sometimes tears, A pearl necklace around the neck of poverty.’ This Week:
  • Consider a response you would give to Lulu and discuss this letter in class.
  • Keep a journal this week and consider where God is for you in the ‘bits and pieces of everyday’.
  • If you are on Instagram, share a collage of pictures of God in the bits of pieces.
  • Read the poem The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh.