Once upon a time there was an atheist grandmother, claiming Jewish cultural (if not religious) roots, who took her beloved five-year-old grandson to the beach. Decked out in his sun suit and hat, and equipped with his pail and shovel, the little boy played happily near the water, building castles and moats. When the grandmother dozed, the grandson was suddenly caught in an undertow and was soon nowhere in sight. The frantic grandmother called for help, but there was no one else on the beach.
Figuring she had nothing to lose, she fell to the ground, raised her arms to heaven and prayed, “God, if you exist, if you are there, please save my grandson. I promise I’ll make it up to you. I’ll join the Hadassah*; I’ll volunteer at the hospital; I’ll join the men’s club, the women’s club, whatever makes you happy.”
And suddenly a huge wave tossed the grandson on the beach at her feet. The grandmother bent over to hear his heart beating, she noticed color in his cheeks, his eyes opening, but she appeared upset. Bringing herself to full height, and with hands on her hips, she wagged her finger at the sky: “He had a hat, you know! Where’s the hat?”
Source: “Meditations on a Joyful Year
Speed Vogel Talks with Moshe Walks”
in Parabola, XII (4) 1987, p. 63.
This is supposed to be a humorous story. Humor is possible in this situation only because the grandmother speaks to and not for God. God is someone who can be berated and cajoled because God is very much part of the family. God is personal and even a friend and just like a friend you can engage in a conversation with God on an intimate basis and be yourself, a conversation that allows for nitpicking even!
- How does your conversation with God sound like?
- It sometimes happen that no matter how big the gift, we sometimes act or respond as though it’s not big enough. How do you normally respond to what comes your way?
[*] Hadassah means compassion, hence the women’s charity in Israel, Hadassah.