BY DR CARMEL BENDON DAVISIt was cold, even for July. The sky was an icy blue, the sun’s rays useless on this winter’s afternoon. A few clouds braved the cold sky, some of them clustering as if for warmth in a fluffy clump. “Is that where God lives?” asked my five-year old as she pointed to the cloud clump from her viewing position on the park’s swing.
“Well, God really doesn’t ‘live’ anywhere; he’s all around us, he’s next to us, he’s everywhere that we can think of, anywhere that we need him; and so, yes, you could say he’s there in the clouds too,” I replied, aware that such an answer might only make sense to a very young child.
“Oh, I get it,” she nodded. “He’s wherever you want him to be. Like my friend, Mrs Green.” Mrs Green was my daughter’s imaginary friend, her constant companion from toddler days.
“Yes, like Mrs Green. Whenever, and wherever, you need a friend, there is God.”
“But Mrs Green couldn’t be in a cloud, Mummy. She can only live on the ground, like you and me. God’s cleverer, if he can live in a cloud. Look, there’s Mrs Green on the next swing. Could God be on a swing do you think?” she asked as she swung her legs wildly to increase the height that my pushes were giving to her own swinging through the air.
I had to admit I’d never thought of the possibility of God being on a swing in a playground but I replied, “Anything’s possible as far as God goes.”
“That’s good,” she said, “because if God couldn’t be on a swing then he might miss out on a lot of fun.”
And with that she dug her feet firmly into the ground, forcing the swing to a sudden halt. Then she jumped off and ran to launch herself onto the monkey bars that were once a feature of all children’s playgrounds.
“Look at me. I’m a real monkey,” she called, as she hurled herself from the first bar, aiming for the third. She missed, and fell to the ground with a thud, her left arm crumpled under her. I could see, even before I reached her, that the arm was broken, the bone distorted to form a floppy s-shape under the skin. She was already white with shock and pain. I ran to grab the picnic rug which I placed over her little body and then I put my jacket under her head.
In those pre-mobile days, different emergency plans were necessary. It was such a cold day that there was no-one else in the park but I knew I needed to get her to a hospital and quickly.
“Lie very still. I’m going to the house nearby to call an ambulance,” I said, by now breathless with shock myself. “I’ll only be a few minutes, and I’ll try to keep you in view from that house the whole time,” I tried to explain.
“It’s all right, Mummy,” she said bravely. “Mrs Green’s still on the swing, and God’s still in those clouds. They’ll look out for me.”
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies” - Mother Teresa