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Jack Zaleski, Published October 26 2013

Zaleski: If they are there, God watches them

CHELSEA, Vt. – My triplet granddaughters are halfway through their seventh year. They are asking questions about God. I love their curiosity, their fascination with the creation around them, their wonder at it all.

They’ve not been churched in the traditional ways that informed their mother and grandparents. Rather, they’ve been hearing the stories from the Bible, read by Mom at bedtime or anytime they ask. They ask often. The stories from Noah to Bethlehem have become gateways to discussions about God, faith and the mysteries they encounter daily in the marvelous woodlands, meadows, brooks and ponds that surround them where they live. We did an outdoor lesson a few days ago.

After a climb up a long slope behind their home – they ran, I trudged, rested, trudged some more – we discovered a gigantic sugar maple. The three-trunked giant’s crown of branches spread like a cathedral above us. Up they skittered, like they were born to the trees, and then perched on a huge lateral limb, still festooned with the last of fall’s orange/yellow leaves.

“How did the tree get so big?” asked McKenna Faith. Before I could answer, thoughtful Bennett Sage, a budding naturalist, said, “God did it.” Not to be upstaged by her sisters, ever-analytical Harper Dakota added, “But God had help from Mother Nature.”

“Mother Nature?” I asked.

With the certainty that only a precocious child can have (if only for a short time), McKenna said, “And the fairies. The fairies helped, too. We can see them at night when it’s summer. Not now, ’cause it’s too cold for fairies.”

Of course it is, I thought, doing my best to suppress a smile. They are at the age where I can’t fool ’em anymore. Even a hint of doubt – a knowing smile – precipitates a challenge.

“Really,” said McKenna, “There are fairies in the woods. They help God, too. They do-o-o.”

I asked Harper, who tends to question things more than the other two, “Have you seem them – the fairies?”

“I think so,” she said with seriousness beyond her years. “They glow at night and move around when it’s windy. I think they are fairies.”

“See,” said Bennett, whose imagination is always in overdrive, “we all see them.”

“God sees them, too,” said McKenna, “Right?”

“Well,” I said, “if they are there, God surely sees them. And he takes care of them because he created them.”

Silence as they considered what I said. Contemplation as they tried to put it all together. Wonder in their eyes as they took in the beauty around them. A thousand questions stirring in their minds. Questions about nature, creation, a creator and the stories in the book. It’s a good start.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.