It started with a book.
Originally, I just thought it was a book about a lost little girl, one who’d been abused by her parents, and had decided to “adopt” a new family, Fynn and his mum, in pre-2nd-world-war England. I have no recollection of where I got this book, who gave it to me, or why it was in my possession, but I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, and it’s one book that I think I will always have in my library.
I know it may seem strange to some, but this is the book that got me started thinking about religion vs. spirituality, church vs. faith, and how I fit in to this realm of theology that I had known all my life, but wasn’t really happy with.
This book made me think about what “God” meant to me, and how we fit into each other’s lives.
Anna was a “bomb with legs on”, as the author, Fynn put it. She had a multitude of questions and ideas, seemingly too grown-up for a child of 4-5-6-7. But the ideas that she had, the logic she used to answer the questions fermenting in her brain, and the simplicity with which she described her conclusions, drove a spike of light into my own head at a very early age. And it split my head wide open to a whole new world, and a new way of looking at everything around me. With childlike curiosity, an open heart, and eyes that saw more than just what was immediately visual, Anna taught me how to “Ask the right questions” of myself, and everything else.
I think I was about 9 when I read this book for the first time. And while I wasn’t able to truly understand a lot of the science and math (still can’t, for that matter, I suck at math), I was able to grasp the simplest of her messages.
That God didn’t exist only in Church, and that Heaven wasn’t really a place up above the clouds, with a benevolent old man sitting on a throne, waiting to see if you could be “good enough” to get beyond his pearly gates when you died.
God lived inside you. And God wasn’t necessarily how I’d been taught to think of him. That he didn’t care if you went to church, because that wasn’t the important bit. That he didn’t care if you gave him money, because what was he going to spend it on? That the important bit? Was just this:
[“Our local parson was taken aback when he asked her about God. the conversation went as follows:
‘Do you believe in God?’
‘What is God then?’
‘Do you go to church?’
‘Because I know it all!’
‘What do you know?’
‘I know to love Mister God and to love people and cats and dogs and spiders and flowers and trees’ – and the catalog went on- ‘with all of me.’
Anna had bypassed all the nonessentials and distilled centuries of learning into one sentence: ‘And God said love me, love them, and love it, and don’t forget to love yourself.’]
Anna also spoke to Fynn about the nature of God’s gender, and she ended up coming to the conclusion that he had to be male. Her explanation involved a piece of popped balloon, and a finger pushed partially through it, to show the genders. And the funny part to me was that, while she knew, irrevocably, that this logic she used meant that God had to be male, it was just the proof that I knew told me that Deity was neither male, nor female alone, but both. You have to have both, in nature, or species die. Without both male and female, there is no continuity of any living thing.
The real point I’m trying to make here, isn’t that I want anyone to follow my logic, or my path, or even Anna’s, for that matter. The ways we came to our conclusions are varied, and I have often disagreed with some of the answers she came to in the book. It doesn’t matter.
What matters – is that it got me to ask questions. Both of myself, and of everyone else. And to find the answers to those questions, for myself, I had to open my eyes wide, look around with an open mind, look inside myself with an opened-up consciousness, and open my heart to the possibility that all that I’d known before – was going to fall apart in the new light.
I was brought into Anna’s world at the age of Nine. Anna herself never saw 9. She never made it to 8 years old. But what she brought to Fynn’s world, and to all the people who’ve read about her since… is immeasurable.
This story was a story about a lost soul, and the journey of finding its way to the light of understanding. But it wasn’t Anna who was lost. It was Fynn. And Anna was the guide who took him by the hand, gently, with a smile and a giggle, and walked him down the path to his own truth. He was a real person. So was Anna. This is not a book of fiction, or fantasy. It is a true accounting, made by someone who not only knew this little girl, and loved her, but missed her with a grief that was so all-encompassing it took him 30 years just to work up the ability to write her story down.
In the end, everyone has to find their own Anna, their own light-bringer, someone, or something that helps them open up to the world of possibilities. There’s no magic to it, no instruction manual, no sign posts along the way. There’s the desire to know, the yearning for understanding, the quest for your own truth, and the willingness to accept that all the answers – might not be the ones you were looking for. But, as long as you have the answer, you can work your way back to the question it fits, in time, and find the light of truth – waiting for you to come home.
In the beginning, for me, there was Anna. And she brought me the light, and it was good.
*Today’s post is my 500th post on this blog. I wanted it to be something special – hence, I bring you Anna. Someone extraordinary.