There are few things my wife and I disagree about. Evolution* is one of them. You see, I don't believe in it. I'm a Creationist.
*Evolution, as I'm using it here, refers to the existence of the universe, and more specifically, human beings, without the involvement of a deity. Which deity and how involved... well, as Sweet Brown would say, "Ain't no body got time for that!"*
She likes to joke that it has to do with childhood indoctrination in a cult at my parochial school. She's only half right.
Sure, I was raised and educated in an environment that was staunchly Creationist. But the reason that I am a Creationist today - because, after all, there are few things I was educated to be that still have any relevance in my life now - is really because of one little girl.Created
My niece Clarice was an old soul. She called me by my first name, pronouncing it better than most adults, rarely formalizing it with "Auntie". And that felt right, since she was also my playmate, friend, sister and teacher. She made me feel ten feet tall. She was beautiful. She was smarter than I'll ever be. She left an impression on everyone she ever met. She rejuvenated my grandparents, with each of whom she formed an incredible bond. She was the one thing - her importance, her perfection - upon which my whole family could agree. All of that and so much more in just 4.5 years.
Eight years ago this week, she became an angel.
So there I was - 24 years old, a new mom, knee deep in law school, and grieving. Already emotionally exhausted and trying to piece back together my life plan, her death was a devastating blow. The blow that, more than anything else in my life, really made me question what I believed about who we are, who God is, and what the hell it is that we're doing here.
I can't say for sure if it was before or after the funeral, but I still remember the moment in my mom's dining room like it was yesterday. It was the moment my God and I started over. It began with a question.
"Are you there, God? It's me, Siobhan." No, not quite. But close.
I asked myself what I believed, in the deepest depths of my soul, about God and about me. What did I know beyond knowing? Was there any part of my faith left that was unshakable?
I was created.
It was all I had, but it was enough.
I was created.
It was liberating. It was reassuring. It was the new foundation of my faith.
I was created and so was Clarice. She was not ours. She, like all of us, was a creation, belonging to the Creator but loaned to us for a time. We could admire. We could love. We could touch and be touched. But she was never ours to keep.
That is how I found my peace.
For a while, that was all I had. My spiritual life consisted of an acknowledgment of the Creator by the creation and little else. But over time it has grown, like relationships do, into a deeper, fuller understanding. It is a relationship of which I am immensely proud because it is mine alone. It does not flow from a school, or a parent, or a denomination. It was a tiny seed watered with my tears, blossoming slowly but continuously.
Clarice's death did not send me back to church every Sunday. Her life inspired something so much greater.
So if you ask me why I'm a creationist, I'm not going to pull out a Bible, or quote Genesis, or even point to gaps in the fossil record. I'm going to pull out a picture of a beautiful little girl and tell you about the life she lived, the smiles she inspired and the way she made me feel ten feet tall. A little girl who was no accident. A little girl who could only be created.
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