I will always remember the first time I saw my brother Mike. He is the first baby I remember seeing. Look at him now! He certainly is not a baby although his wife might disagree with that statement at times.
The first time I saw Mike, Dad had just carried him in the house after the trip home from the hospital. I recall my brothers Rick and Victor joining me around Mike as Dad set him down and began changing his diaper. Mike was just staring around. I remember thinking how messy babies were. I do not remember my older brother, Leroy, being present. He was over five years older than me and was never very happy with the growing number of siblings. It is strange that I don’t remember my mother coming in with Dad and Mike.
Sometimes, as I remember this scene, I wonder whether, even as a newborn, Mike was thinking of some joke or trick he could pull on Victor. Mike has always been the most active joker in the family. Victor was about a year and a half older, but Mike learned that Victor was very tolerant so he was a good target for his attempts at humor. I recall one time after a particularly distasteful practical joke, Victor did become angry so he yelled at Mike about how evil he could be. He did not target Rick or me since we would get even.
There were plenty of times when we would come upon Mike and find him smiling a “Cheshire Cat” smile and wonder what was going on. Perhaps the most memorable story about Mike involved a beagle named Pet. Our father used some very “colorful” language around the farm, so it was bound to be passed along. One day Rick and I heard an eight year old Mike down by the barn where he was out of sight. He was cussing and really making a lot of noise. We thought something was wrong so we ran to see what was the matter. Mike had tied some baler twine around Pet’s neck as a leash and was leading the dog around. We asked him what he was doing with Pet. He responded, “I’m practicing my cussing”. It was just the same as if he was practicing his spelling words for school. A benefit of being an older sibling is that I have so many good memories from seeing my younger brothers and sisters grow up.
From time to time, I have flash through my mind the first time I saw each of my own children.
My oldest child, Emily, was born in a brightly lit, surgical type room after about twelve hours of labor. She and her mother were exhausted. Emily cried briefly until the nurse handed her to her mother, Elaine, who soothed her with her voice. When I met her, Emily was wide-eyed as if she was thinking, “What happened? What is this? Where are you taking me?” Emily was born very curious and has retained that trait all of her life. She has always had digestive problems which made her first year a trying year for us. Elaine and I were novice parents and it showed even though we had been involved in raising our younger siblings.
Emily and I have always been close. She called me tonight to discuss watching the eclipse of the moon. It has been amazing to see her grow over the years and I am glad that she is committed to lifelong growth.
Dion was born in a darkened room with windows that opened onto a courtyard where we could see and hear a cardinal singing. I thought it was such a beautiful setting. It was about 3:30 PM when he made his entrance into the world. He did not cry. He was handed to his mother and very soon was surrounded by all four grandparents, one great grandmother, and me. With eyes wide open, he took in everything around him. I had to leave for a few hours. When I returned, our eyes met and I asked, “How are you doin’ little fella?” He smiled at me the first of so many smiles that he was to give to the world.
Elaine was incredibly happy during the time she was pregnant and for the first four months of Dion’s life. It seems to have made a difference for Dion since he was always the most even tempered and seemingly unflappable of our children. When he was four months old, both of his grandfathers were hospitalized with life threatening problems. Elaine’s father died within a few days while my father was able to leave the hospital after about six months with greatly diminished physical capabilities. Dion’s presence is probably all that saved Elaine from the grief over losing her father.
Brookley is my youngest child. During her time in the womb, her mother was grieving the loss of her father. Brookley was born on a hot August afternoon in a very brightly lit room and immediately began screaming. She finally calmed down after her mother held her and talked to her for awhile. When I first held her that day, she looked at me and seemed to be fearful and apprehensive, but she was alright after hearing my voice. Brookley trusted us. After all, what choice did she have? She probably remembered my voice since I frequently talked to my children while they were in the womb.
Brookley is our most introverted child. She is very artistic and thoughtful. She and Dion frequently entertained us at holidays with their antics. They could do comedy routines from TV and the movies. They worked so well together.
If you have experienced being a parent and are a typical human, you would give anything or do anything for your child’s well being. It is highly unlikely that you would get angry and strike your child dead or injure your child intentionally. A healthy parent will work hard to treat all of their children equally and consistently. Capricious acts of violence or neglect would not occur. There has always been a tendency to look at my children and say, “That is good”. I suspect that most of us think that way.
This does not mean that you would always bail out your child when the child was foolish. It does not mean that you could always protect your child from accidents, acts of nature, and from evil people in the world. Yet, you would use your relationship as a parent to help the child grow in understanding and in relationship to the world around them. A typical parent would trade their life for their child’s life without thinking twice about it.
It is common for people to think of God as being a father. At least this is true for Christians. It is probably more useful and appropriate to think of God as just a parent capable of both mothering and fathering us. Such a metaphor still falls short since God is so much more than a parent. There are some old Hebrew writings that were left out of the Christian Bible in which God is called by the name Sophia which is “Wisdom” in Greek. Sophia was also used in Proverbs, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes, but was translated as Wisdom. Note the capital “W” in Wisdom. There is considerable evidence that the Hebrews referenced the female side of God as Sophia or Wisdom. Wisdom is often equated with God or a quality of God. Until recently, I did not notice that references to Wisdom were feminine in the Bible. Check out the beginning of Proverbs 8:
  Doesn’t Wisdom cry out
    and Understanding shout?
Atop the heights along the path,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand.
By the gate before the city,
    at the entrances she shouts:
So much for those who insist that restricting women is totally biblical. It appears that the passages that segregate women were written by people with a segregated view of life.
I believe there is a tendency and likely a desire by humans to think of God as if God is a human. Therefore, God must have a gender and emotions. God must have a personality. If you go to this website: http://www.internet.is/darris/god-in-a-box/id26.htm, you can see that somebody has prepared a partial list of characteristics that people express concerning the personality they believe God to possess.
My list of words to describe God include the following words which are underlined.
1.      Eternal in the sense that God always has been and always will be. Does that apply to humans? That is a point that is not clear and that I do not feel matters.
2.      Graceful is a term for God that I want to believe, but it may contradict other characteristics.
3.      Immutable is a characteristic that is easier to understand. Unlike humans, God is unchanging.
4.      Incomprehensible means God is more than a human is capable of understanding.
5.      One of the reasons humans find it beyond their capability to understand God is that God is infinite.
6.      I have considered describing God as logical, but that would imply that God stops to think about what is happening, which make no sense if one also considers that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, perfect, transcendent, graceful, and immutable.
7.      Omnipotent is appropriate for God unless one decides that God would use power in the manner it is typically used by humans. I see it as a term that has more to do with creation and how creation is held to together so it operates.
8.      Omnipresent seems easy, but maybe I have not given it enough thought. God is all around us. God is everywhere we go and everywhere we can be. God is even within us. (But that does not make a human God.)
9.      Omniscient is a term that seems more a term of worship than a useful descriptor. I do suppose that whatever created everything would necessarily know everything there is to know.
10.  Perfectis a difficult descriptor. It seems to require a judgement. If one thinks of the scripture where God answers the question, “Who are you?” with “I am” or some variation of the statement, it makes sense. Things are the way they are and that is all there is to it. Something that is perfect does not need to change and in fact, would no longer be perfect if it was changed.
11.  God is transcendent. God is beyond all that we know.
12.  God is consistent. We can count on God. Unlike some passages in the Bible suggest, we cannot count on God to do our will, but we can count on God to be the same from one time to another so we do not need to work at constantly figuring out what to do to please God.
God as a parent? God is far beyond being a parent. If one can become familiar enough with the Bible to see it as a whole, one can see that it is a story of the developing relationship between God and creation. It begins with Genesis and a statement that God loves creation (everything is “good”). The Bible begins and ends with Jesus. I say that because nothing has been added since the stories of Jesus so that is the end and Jesus directs us to begin the Bible and all that we do with his statement in Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus answers the question of what are the most important commandments (MIC). We are given the key to all relationships, including the relationship with God. Love God with all that you have and love others as you love yourself. All the law and commandments hang on these.
Many or even most of the stories of the Bible are from the early understandings and explanations of the relationship between God and humans. Up until Jesus, there was a misunderstanding in which the Jews considered themselves to be the only ones God cared about and that God behaved as a human would behave. God showed human emotions even to the point of rage. Jesus regularly seemed exasperated that the people around him did not understand that he was telling them that there was a new way to understand God.
In order to practice life within that new understanding of God, Jesus worked to portray and teach the MIC. It required love which in turn requires an understanding of love. That will require another post.

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