This evening, as Lucia, Greta, Andrew, and I ate dinner overlooking the fields and pond in New Hampshire, Lucia expressed her ardent appreciation for the pieces of plum on her plate. It was as though she'd never seen a plum before, as though I hadn't been offering them to her all summer.
"Mama, these are so, so yummy," she said. "How did you MAKE these plums?"
"I didn't 'make' them," I said. "They're pieces of fruit, like apples, cut into slices."
Andrew, always helpful, said, "God made the plums."
Lucia gazed out over the twilit fields. Birds chirped. Crickets chirped. A few remaining clouds wisped across the sky in the cool, brilliant, final light of day, illuminating the gold and purple wildflowers. "Who IS God?" she said eventually.
My response was weak. I had no idea what to say, falling back on creationist nonsense because I couldn't come up with anything better. "And that's why we go to church. To say thank you," I concluded. (This isn't the point of this story, but a relevant aside is that if we're not going to send these girls to Catholic school and outsource all the religious education, then I need to figure out exactly how I'm going to teach them at least the basic information without sounding so insane and lame. Next I'll be telling her cryptically never to read the Book of Revelation without a priest present. But I digress.)
Lucia nodded sagely and once again looked out over the fields. I dreaded whatever the follow-up question would be. We waited.
Then she said, "If I covered the barn with ketchup and mustard, do you think I could put the whole thing in my mouth and swallow it without chewing?"
We were saved.