Finding God in the math homework

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Two weeks ago my kindergartener and I were sitting at the dining room table after dinner.  I was helping him with his math homework, which involved counting and coloring stars.  He sat there, blue crayon in hand, intent on his work, when all of a sudden he spoke.

“God made the stars to give us light,” he said.

“That’s right. He did.”

“And he gave us the moon and the sun, too,” he informed me solemnly.

I love it, these childhood flashes of spiritual connection, this flexible little mind that thinks of God right in the middle of a math worksheet.  Increasingly, I can do the same; I have become better over the years at letting awareness of God’s presence color the various events of my day.  But there are still many things I do where it’s harder to sense God, to connect the dots between my task and the divine.

I think of things like sitting in traffic, or grading stacks of papers, or waiting on hold with the DMV.  And I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of God while doing a math assignment, unless it involved a desperate silent prayer uttered moments before a pre-calculus test.  (I’m a word girl, not a number girl.)

But St. Ignatius believed you can find God in all things, and ultimately I believe it, too.  Some things and situations are easier than others,  but maybe that’s why we need other people; they find the connections we miss, just like my son did when his math homework became an occasion to think of the Creator.   Other people see the fingerprints of God in places where I just see smudges.  And when they share, they gently train us to have a sharper, clearer vision than we did before.

So that’s my challenge: to try to make my mind as flexible as my kindergartener’s, a mind that bends toward God even in the traffic and the math.

7 responses to “Finding God in the math homework

  1. Great post, especially in light of today’s gospel about becoming like little children. I will commit to more effort in taking on this same challenge in traffic, math & whatever. Thanks for sharing your incites.

  2. Thanks for the comment, John. My life as a parent continues to give me such great insight into that Gospel passage you mentioned … kids are wonderful at finding what really matters.

  3. Touching story! That’s what I love about kids – when they’re at that age, their brains are still making all these connections and seeing things in new lights. During adolescence, our brains sort of prune a lot of the stuff we don’t use regularly, to streamline and speed up the brain. But children still have this wonderful capacity to bring together disparate parts – and it’s especially appreciable when it comes to an appreciation of God.

    I also love this story because it talks about God and math. It warms my heart so much to hear it. Make no mistake; God’s signature is written all over mathematics. Some of the craziest coincidences between seemingly unrelated objects are inexplicable without citing the divine.

    Thanks for brightening my day 🙂

  4. So glad I could brighten your day, Jake! Thanks for your kind words.

    My dad — a retired engineer — would be right with you when it comes to finding God’s signature in math. He is someone with an innate sense of wonder and awe at the logic & beauty of math and science. Maybe someday some of that will rub off on me!

  5. Hi! Wow… I was touched by your blog post! Grabe (Wow)! You’re lucky because you know hot to find God… Honestly, I can’t find Him. I’ve been searching for Him all my life. How do you find God exactly? I want to ask my CLE teacher or maybe some other teacher, but I don’t know how to ask it to them. I’m just having a hard time finding Him everywhere I go, but your blog post really helped! Keep up the good job! Keep writing! And keep inspiring people through your blog post!

  6. Septian Marhenanto

    It is a very inspiring sharing. I will try to be more aware and find Him whenever I am especially when I sitting in the Traffic or even in the middle of the high load working assignments. Thanks for the great sharing!

    Septian – Indonesia

  7. Justine, thanks for the comment. One thing that has really helped me find God is to pray the Examen on a regular basis. Here’s the basics of the prayer: http://www.loyolapress.com/how-can-i-pray-try-the-daily-examen.htm Many blessings on your journey!

    Septian, I appreciate your kind words — thank you!