In July of 2015, I took a trip to Haiti as part of school dedication that our Diocese helped to rebuild following the devastating earthquakes. One of the things I brought back with me as a reminder of our time there was a nativity set featuring tiny little painted clay figures, an adorable Baby Jesus, and a little coconut carved into the crèche. Anna, then almost 6 years old, immediately was fascinated with it when she saw it. She couldn’t wait to show her best friend, Dheer who lived next door, and share with him her knowledge of all the characters and the story. Dheer is Hindu and, of course, didn’t know this story, despite Anna’s insistence that he did know. “You know…Jesus! Like in the Bible!” Dheer’s dad Yogi was outside and saw what they were doing, and he, as did we, allowed this moment to unfold naturally while the two kids innocently shared and discovered. It was in this moment that God was present with these two, God in the way that we as Christians understand, and God in the way that they as Hindus understand, not as two separate entities vying for devout love from two different children. It was the same God whose presence there was much bigger than the pretty little boxes both of our families have put God in and presented our children; but I know God appreciates our efforts.

As we continue to grow with this wonderful family of neighbors next door to us, it is so important to let these moments happen, not just between the kids, but also between we adults. Our children, there are four of them between us, do notice the differences. Their children see my kids’ lighter complexion and our kids see their darker complexion. But our kids also see the brilliant color of their clothing for special holidays, the red dot on the forehead, which is sometimes adorned with a jewel, the black lines of henna ink drawn in intricate detail. They smell the wonderful aroma of the traditional dishes they cook. Their children see our kids dressing up for special occasions too. They see the fun colored Easter Eggs in our yard in the spring and our Christmas décor, inside and out, including that Haitian nativity set, along with several others.

What comes from this exposure is innocent curiosity in our children that has unfolded and then been satisfied these four years our families have known each other. As we help answer the children’s questions, we adults learn so much from each other too. Whether they are worshipping their Creator or we are worshipping ours, what we are all practicing is love. And God, whether the Hindu version, the Christian version, or any version in between, is Love.

Written by Barbie Russell, Director of Children’s and Family Ministries

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