I remember being a small child, sitting at the feet of my mother, and her showing me a peppermint as we were dressed for church, waiting on our ride. I couldn't have been any older than four.
“Do you see this candy, Gerald, Jr.?”
“See this red. The red means sometimes you will make mistakes. You will make some not-so-good decisions. But you see this white. This means you can make those bad decisions right. You can turn them around. But guess what, the red comes again. And guess what after that? The white. You see it’s a circle. That means it will happen over and over. This circle is life. Does that make sense, son?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said. I remember staring intently at the candy as she told the story, deeply engaged, rubbing her stockinged leg.
“Remember that son—there’ll always be red; there’ll always be white. And that’s God. And there will always be God. Remember to see the God in everything.”
“Yes ma’am,” just then, we hear the horn of the church van. I pop the candy in my mouth, and we make our way out of the house. I didn’t realize at four years old the impact of such a simple story, but I would learn very soon the power in story and the presence of God.
Before I knew religion, I knew God. I remember the connection to the power of something bigger than me, keeping me standing, keeping me breathing. I knew science, and I knew spirit. And I knew science served spirit and spirit served science. I remember as a small boy when I would feel things were too much, I knew to breathe. And I knew to focus on my breathing. And I knew that that breathing was God. I could not understand it, but I knew if I could get back to my breathing—focus on my breathing—I knew God would meet me there. No one ever told me that, but I knew as early as three years old that God was in that focused place. It was the manipulation, exploitation, adulteration, and falsification of people that pulled me from that place and begin to scare me and call me bad names. I would so often fight to get back to that focused place, but so much pulled on me and tried to keep me from that place. And the farther I got from young Gerald, the harder it was for me to get back to that focused place. It took many years of me sifting through judgment and dogma to find young Gerald still breathing and focused.
I want to encourage everyone to look within. God is there and has been there all along. And whatever that focused place is is where you can find God. For me, it is focused breathing. For you, it may be dance uninhibitedly or branding daffodils into a crown. But I encourage you to look at what four-year-old you did to recenter. Guess what, that thing still works, and you should give yourself space and permission to do so. That's where God is. And like my mama says, "See, the God in everything."