It’s the question parents are supposed to dread. “Where did I come from?” Nowadays I suspect most parents are well-prepared. They also know that very young children are not expecting a biology lesson. A lecture on the facts of life wouldn’t quite answer the question.
The child in front of us is not just a bundle of bones, or a brain, or a whirlwind of arms and legs. Children are people and a person isn’t made by sticking cells together. People are created from so many different elements; language, culture, experience, human life and love.
“Where did I come from?” may represent a search for some kind of intention behind a child’s existence. They weren’t an accident but conceived in love. They are wanted and they belong.
When I was training to be a priest, I spent some time working alongside a hospital chaplain. One day we were taken to the morgue. As the mortician was preparing a body for a post-mortem, he produced a little electric saw. “I need to open up the skull” he said. “Where is he?” he asked, “Come on, you’re the experts!”. Again it’s not a geographical question. People are not simply physical objects. To ask the question “Where is he?” is to ask for re-assurance that the person who was part of our lives will remain in our family conversation and in the history of our community. That is what makes them a person and continues to make them a person after death.
Parallels can be drawn with the question “Where is God?” We are not looking for a biology or a geopgraphy lesson, since the notion of a physical “coming together” is not appropriate. God is not made by anything at all but is that which creates love, joy, peace and the fruits of God’s spirit. The question “Where is God?” looks for some kind of assurance that all is well; that there is hope and purpose in our lives.
That’s why the Christian answer to the question “Where is God?” should be “God is with us”. The equally important question is “Where are we?”. That’s not a geographical or biological question either ; Are we with God? Are we where there is hope, courage, humanity, dignity and love?