Thursday, May 6, 2010

Silent Thunderstorms

Springtime in Nebraska means one thing: thunderstorms. (Well, two if you count tornadoes but seeing how they accompany thunderstorms I only count the root cause.)

We had a big storm of thunder, lightning and two inches of rain rip through here one night last week and I found myself in a new situation. One that I was kind of unprepared for yet knew we would someday face: religion.

Elliot was going to bed and a loud thunder cracked overhead, making our house shake and making our 3 year old refuse to sleep. “Mommy!” he yelled out, starting to cry, “The thunder HURT me!” Having never seen him so terrified, my heart instantly broke for his fear of something that cannot physically hurt you. Ever. He cuddled up in my lap on the rocking chair.

I softly explained that the thunder didn’t hurt him, but had scared him. And while it’s okay to be scared of things, he should know that thunder can’t do anything but make loud noises. And then he asked “what is thunder?”

It stopped me mid-rock.

The only thing whirring through my mind was the story from my youth: God is bowling. God is bowling. God is bowling. God. Is. Bowling.

The idea of a God is something I struggle with, and have struggled with for some time. It’s not that I don’t believe, because I don’t know if I do or don’t. I struggle with Religion as a whole – the logistics, rituals, different religions and gods available for worship, my constant level of discomfort in a church for any reason, availability of science-based explanations – and can’t see myself teaching him something that I don’t really support.

I know I’m not alone in this thinking.

And so I sat there quietly for a minute and decided I would explain it rationally – the only way that I know I can back up if necessary, the only thing I believe for sure: thunder comes from clouds banging into each other way up in the sky.

He was satisfied with my answer.

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Ashley said...

Love it. I agree with everything you just said!

Tina said...

We went through something similar with our kids and storms (they weren't scared, just curious). Of course, we do believe in God, so it went a little differently. I remember the whole "God is bowling thing," so that's a funny memory we share.

We want the kids to know the science aspect, so that's how we explained how rain comes out of the clouds. Although, the only thing Gabriel remembers is, "God made the rain," and that's fine with us for now. :)

Jen Craun said...

I don't think Thunder has anything to do with God, outside of it being a part of Creation, in which we do believe was from/by God and continues to be.

But I was laughing hysterically remembering that "God is Bowling" quip. Because, that...we don't necessarily believe that God is doing...

I thought thunder was the sound of lightening?? And the timing lag had something to do with the difference in travel speeds between light + sound?

Anna said...

Well, yes, but my point in this is just that this was the first (of surely many times to come) when I will have instantly conflicting thoughts about how to answer his questions.

I remember always picturing God up there bowling. As if he had little pins and everything.

Jen Craun said...

our thunderstorms almost always happen late at night. WAY PASSED bedtime, when NO ONE should be bowling, and making THAT much noise at that hour; It's rude! :)