A God of magic tricks

May 15th, 2007 | By | Category: Spirituality

We are about to move house for the second time in a year, moving into the shiny new Rectory our parish has had built. The upheaval is not pleasant, but throws up unexpected moments. Clearing shelves I found a past copy of the Dominican journal Spirituality and read a piece by Maria Tighe, a parish sister working in Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

“The class of five year olds sat spellbound as I recounted the story of how Jesus fell asleep during the storm at sea. As I reached the climax of the story where Jesus stretched out his hands over the raging sea, I stretched out my hands and made a dramatic pause. Before I could say the words ‘Peace be still,’ I was interrupted by Tony who could hardly contain him­self, ‘Abracababra’ he exploded. Since that day when Tony broke the spell I have often caught myself out expecting an abracababra-god to come to my aid, or to make haste to help my friends.

When I was a child in Primary School I was taught that God knows everything; he is everywhere and he can do anything. In those days one did not question what the teacher said, but I fervently hoped that God did not really know what I was thinking. I also remember thinking that God was not everywhere, because he would not want to be in the bin with the bottle tops and used straws that reeked of sour milk. I tried to work out something that God could not do. When I talked the matter over with my ten-year-old brother, he told me that God could not squeeze toothpaste back into a tube once it had been squeezed out! I felt vaguely satisfied by his answer. It was almost as if I had caught this abaracadabara-god out at his own game.

I rather resented God when I was a child. According to my teacher, God loved me even more than my Mam and Dad did. I did not want anyone to love me more than my parents loved me. God seemed to be an inter­fering outsider who was more or less everywhere! He knew all the things I got up to; especially he knew my misdemeanours. He was very power­ful, and like Tony, I believed that he could perform the odd magical trick or two if one used the right manipulative formula or behaviour. Recently, one of my friends faced with a grave decision said, ‘Oh if only God would give me a computer printout for what I should do in this situation!’ Yes, we grown up children still hanker after an abracadabra-god who will act without much involvement or effort on our part”.

I felt distinctly uneasy. Often in my prayers I am looking for an abracadabra-god.

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