Friday, May 16, 2003

Eli's Questions

Two weeks ago Eli, my three-year old, asked me what water was made of. I was rather distracted trying to get him into his car seat so I answered without thinking. "Hydrogen and Oxygen." He said "What's hilgrigin and oxelgon?" "Basic elements," I said as I closed the car door. His question haunted me that day. More acurately, my answers bothered me. I am such a materialist...such a modern...such a practical atheist...a fact junky. What is water made of? I am convinced that every pre-modern culture that has ever existed has a damn good answer that involves a beautiful narrative of one of their own recieving water from the Divine. We think that we have the right answer...H2O. H20 is BS. Its a lie that we created to forget the story of what water really is. Water is made of love and life. That's the truth. It's a gift not a formula. I made a vow that day that I would try to answer the next difficult question as a spiritual being instead of some organic computer.

The next question came about four hours ago. Eli and I were on our way home from Walmart when he noticed the eclipse. (I knew it was happening but had forgotten to look.) "What's wrong with the moon, daddy?" "It's an eclipse, Eli." Crap! Here I go again. "What's an ekilps, daddy?" It was all I could do not to explain planetary rotation, natural satellites and the moon as a reflective body. I searched my brain for a story...nothing came to mind until Eli spoke again. "I think the moon has a moon-blanket on cause he's cold." I said, "Sounds good to me, buddy. It is really cold on the moon right now." "Yeah...and the moon is far away...farther than Memaw and Papaw's house, huh?" "Yeah, really far," I answered.

We arrived home about five minutes later and Eli told Mommy, "The moon has a blanket on." She stared bewilderingly at me..."There's an eclipse tongiht." I had to translate truth into fact for her. Now if I could just learn to do the opposite for Eli.

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