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God Is an Owl

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“Is God an owl?” came the query from the backseat. I looked in the mirror and saw my little four-year-old girl’s brown eyes looking to me for answers.

“He can be,” I replied. “God can be anything he wants to be.”

My little Tiana, a delightful combination of wit, wisdom, and innocence. The product of many equally strong influences—from her sarcastic teenaged siblings to us parents that cling to her youthfulness, not yet ready to explain to her things such as that Band-Aid is not pronounced Dam-Baid. She’s not in a hurry to grow up, as are most kids, but rather, happy to be a little kid, always willing to share the knowledge she has gathered from the inquisitive interest she has in her surroundings. She’s small for her age, but possesses a rather voluminous vocabulary, and loves to converse with pretty much anyone who will listen.

I knew that probably wasn’t the end of our conversation about God and wondered how far she would take this one. I recalled a heated conversation between her and her five-year-old niece that had come from that same back seat a couple of weeks earlier.

“God is an owl,” said Tiana.

“No, he isn’t,” asserted Christina.

“Yes, he is,” retorted Tiana.

Their voices rose in volume and pitch as they went back and forth, each emphatically presenting their views on who and what God is, until finally they resorted to asking lowly me. I have learned that when either of them feels strongly about something, nothing I can say or do will usually change their opinion, and I think they only really turned to me as a tie-breaker, not able to offer much more than a way out of the standoff.

“God can be anything he wants. Some people will see him as an owl, other people will see him as something else” I explained. I’m not convinced that either of them was satisfied, but at least my comments allowed us to move on to a different topic and finish our commute in relative peace.
Now, two weeks later, here we were, me and my little T-Bear, cruising along in our mom-mobile, on our way to look for a house since the one we were in sold faster than we had anticipated and we needed to find a new one, and quick. We were on our way to a new area, new friends, a new lifestyle, when something reminded Tiana of the past. Something reminded her of my maternal Grandmother, indeed a Grand Lady, who had passed away a couple of years earlier. Tiana had met her only once, shortly before she died, but there was an unbreakable bond established that day, even though Grandma D had never held her or played games with her, or tickled her like only Grandma D could do. Even as she lay on her deathbed, Grandma D’s magic touched Tiana, as it had countless others.

“I miss Grandma D,” were the words that came from the back. “I wish I could talk to her.”

“You can,” I told her.

“Didn’t she die? When you die, you have no brain, and no body, so you can’t talk,” she explained to both me and herself.

“Her spirit is still alive, and you can talk to her through God,” I told her.

“Like the owl?” she asked.

“Yes, he can be an owl, or anything. Just put your hands together and pray and God will tell Grandma D what you want her to hear.”

“But she won’t be able to talk back to me” she lamented.

“Oh, yes, she will. She may not talk with her voice like before, but she will talk to you. She talks to me with flowers. Do you remember right after she died, we came home from Michigan and those beautiful fuchsia petunias grew right out of the ground? The ones that I didn’t plant? Fuchsia was Grandma D’s favorite color and she loved flowers. Those flowers growing - that was Grandma D talking to me, telling me she was okay and that she was there for me. You just have to listen, and she will talk to you.”
That explanation seemed to satisfy her, and we made the rest of our drive talking about other fun little four-year-old things, her wispy light brown curls bobbing around as she as she sat happily in her seat watching the ever changing landscape.

After meeting up with my husband John and our realtor, Don, we spent the rest of the morning and the entire afternoon house hunting. We looked at house after house, many a magnificent creation, but nothing seemed to fit. At that time, houses were being snatched off the market sight unseen, and we were really feeling the pressure to find something fast, wondering if we were being too choosy. After all, this was just supposed to be an investment—a house to live in while we were building on the property we bought in this beautiful area of the Sonoran Desert. The sun was going down, but we decided to drive a little farther out to look at one last house, even though we knew neither one of us wanted to live that far from John’s shop and our property. It was a nice house at the top of a small hill, not quite finished, but close. John and I followed Don through the house, with Tiana close behind. As Don and I stood on the cold concrete living room floor discussing the beautiful views, Tiana, always a mommy’s girl, clung to my leg. John walked through the kitchen and out into the back yard, but returned quickly, exclaiming, “Don’t go out there. There is a huge owl sitting on the stairs.”

I was stunned. In the thirteen years I had been living in the area, never once had I seen an owl.

“Let her go,” were the words that spilled out of my mouth. “Let her go by herself.”

I had no fear of the bird hurting her, even though they have a reputation for being ferocious hunters, and Tiana showed none of her usual fear of the unknown. She let go of my leg and my little munchkin strode boldly out that back door. Her business walk showed she was on a mission. All was quiet out there as I stood in amazement, holding back tears, explaining to John and Don about our conversation just that morning. Don, someone who I view as somewhat of a sage; a calm, seasoned, older man, quite comfortable with his own religion, didn’t act as if anything out of the ordinary was occurring. At the same time, John and I were nearly speechless as we waited nervously for Tiana’s return. Something akin to how I imagine fathers pacing in the maternity waiting rooms of yore, anxiously awaiting the birth of their child. Here we were, awaiting the birth of the greatest relationship of all, the relationship between a child and God.
When Tiana came back in a few minutes later, she carried with her an air of contentment. “I talked to God” she said. “And he talked to me. First he winked one eye, and then the other eye,” she relayed, using her own big, brown eyes to show us how it all happened.

That was it. Although I have wanted to, I haven’t pressed her for answers about what the Owl said to her that day, and she hasn’t felt the need to share. It was their conversation. No longer does she ask me for ways to talk to Grandma D. She got her answer from a much higher authority.

That night as I lay down to go to sleep, I put my hands together, and thanked God for talking to my girl. Occasionally, I still hear those words, when Tiana shares her belief with others. How I love those four words. God is an owl.


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