This phenomenon or ability is all well and good--probably helpful, even, in most situations. But sometimes it leaves you a little misinformed, when you're in a situation where you don't know what the real thing looks like. For example, the World's-Cutest-Niece-Hannah has a book in which a cartoon horse and a cartoon duck appear on the same page, but the cartoons are so stylised that she thinks, based on the other duck drawings she's seen, that the horse is a duck.
Then yesterday Sister-in-Law-Lu (who one day I might just call "Sister-in-Lu") sent us some more Hannah stories:
We went to the zoo on Saturday for the first time since Hannah was a wee little thing. She was stunned by all the children, and it took her awhile to even notice the animals. But then, maybe while we were looking at the exotic sheep, something clicked, and she started to get interested. The big tortoises were especially intriguing, prompting Hannah to say her new word of the week: turtle. And then there were the bears, which completely rocked Hannah's world. At first she looked confused when we called the grizzly "bear." But then she processed it, and she started saying it too. After we got home, Hannah had a new interest in her "real" bear (as opposed to teddy bear) books-ones she didn't used to care about-like the Eric Carle illustrations ("Brown bear, brown bear." "Polar bear, polar bear.") and "Bear snores on." She also got really excited about Ebenezer, the sprawling brown bear who sits on her dresser.This story, in combination with another blog I was reading yesterday, reminded me of the wonder that sometimes happens--dare I say should happen--when one stumbles into the reality of God.
It seems like we can grow up hearing about God, and even believing in God, but sometimes all we really have in our heads is some kind of cartoon-y version which might be sort of okay if we had a basis of reality to work from first, but ends up getting us really off track if we don't. Some books (like the ones in Hannah's library with bears in them)--or preachers or teachers or blogs or television shows or . . . whatever . . . present a more realistic picture of things than others. You can end up with the "God as indulgent parent" caricature in your head, or the "God as sadistic, brimstone-hurling monster" one, and neither one do justice to who God really is.
And then you have an experience where God shows up for you personally, and someone points it out to you, and you can be either terrified and run away ("Bears! Augh!") or you can be properly awestruck ("Oh! This is what a bear is! I had no idea!"). And then you can be drawn to the books and the people who were best able to show you what God looked like in the first place.