–From Robert Fulghum:
“[My mother's maiden name] was Howard. She came from a big Memphis clan that was pretty close and was referred to as the Howard Family. As a small child, I thought of myself as a member of the Howard Family because it was often an item of conversation as in “The Howard Family is getting together,’ and The Howard Family thinks people should write letters to their grandmother.” The matriarch, my grandmother, was referred to as Mother Howard. . . . Howard was a name that was important to me from early on in my life. What happened was that I got packed off to Sunday School at around age four and the first thing I learned was the Lord’s Prayer, which begins “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.” And what I heard was “Our Father, which art in heaven, HOWARD be Thy name.” And since little kids tend to mutter prayers anyhow, nobody realized what I was saying was Howard. And believing I was a member of His family–the Howards. Since I was told that my grandfather had died and gone to heaven, God and my grandfather got all mixed up in my mind as one and the same. Which meant that I had a pretty comfy notion about God. When I knelt beside my bed each night and prayed, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Howard be thy name,” I thought about my grandfather and what a big shot he was because, of course, the prayer ends with “For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever, Amen.” I went to bed feeling pretty well connected to the universe for a long, long time. It was a Howard Family Enterprise. All human images of the ultimate . . . are metaphors, and as metaphors go, this is a pretty homey one. And I thought it for so long that even when I passed through all those growing-up stages of skepticism, disbelief, revision and confusion–somewhere in my mind I still believed in Howard. Because at the heart of that childhood image there is no alienation.”
–I love this story because of the delicious mixture of getting the nature of God absolutely right and absolutely wrong at the same time. Also because his knowledge–even imperfect–blessed his life. Obviously, Howard isn’t God. But–and would that it were also obvious to each of us–God is as close to us as a grandparent. I hope in this lesson we can think about what we know about God, how that knowledge blesses our lives, and what we can do to know more about God–to refine our knowledge and maybe even get rid of some misconceptions.