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Mister God, This is Anna

Mister-God-This-Is-Anna-9780345441553

Book: Mister God, This is Anna; Author: Fynn

“The difference from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside.”

These are the words of a six year old, Anna.

But before I tell you more about her, let me relate the reason why I want to say anything about her in the first place.

Recently, I was driving my 5 year old niece back home when her maid started talking about a relative’s passing away. Suddenly, A asked, “Where has she gone, this aunt of yours?”

Without a pause, she replied, “For a walk”.

I was quiet for a few seconds and then said, “Her aunt has gone to meet God, and after she says hello, she’ll come back, except we wont be able to recognize her.”

“If you go to god, and come back, you’ll have the same face , wont you?” she asked me, a little worried.

“No. My face, body…all of it will be different,” and then looking at her saddened face, I put in the childish touch “like magic, it will all become different.”

The word magic is one she likes very much for I am always playing some trick or the other, pulling things to munch from behind her ears or disappearing and re-appearing from different ends of a curtain. Thus although a new concept of death and its consequences on the one’s left behind had been introduced to her five year old imagination, the last punchline of “magic” had made her feel at ease with the truth.

On a little reflection, I realized two things. One, that no one had ever spoken to me about God or death or afterlife or souls. How and when I have assimilated these truths inside me is a mystery, for I cannot recall any time or occasion linked to these realizations. On the other hand, they may not after all be realizations but simply “facts” that I have become habituated into believing.

Secondly, we as adults are always quick to dismiss all questions of depth and gravity, assuming the time is not appropriate in the life of a child, little realizing that before you know it, the child is an adult, full of a host of ideas and notions that would be difficult to dislodge… there doesn’t seem to be any point in discussing such things all of a sudden.

But then I read a book and it made me realize that the sooner we begin to answer the questions deliberately posed by our children – not questions that we forcibly put to them, but those they put to us – the faster they begin to unlock the windows of their souls, letting the mysteries waft in and  unravel themselves. Telling her that the departed have gone for a long walk would have served no purpose other than some ridiculous notion that when someone dies it means they are only going for a stroll and instead of it being the customary one hour long, it takes a few more hours.

For this I have Anna to thank.

“Mister God, This is Anna” is one of the most endearing books I have ever read and what makes it astounding is that it’s a true story. Anna, a four year old waif, entered the life of Fynn, one foggy night and remained with him for the rest of her life. Having been adopted into a lovingly eccentric household, she soon had  family, friends, neighbours and strangers all wrapped around her special finger and now, she has millions of people all around the world, completely besotted as well.

As the author puts it, she was a “theologian, mathematician, philosopher, poet and gardener all rolled into one.” And the ease with which she exercised her mind to fit into all these roles has left all those who have known her, reeling with disbelief and wonder. Whether it was a simple game of hopscotch, collecting seeds, watching Fynn fix a fuse, playing with geometrical figures or dabbling with the piano, Anna had that wonderful insight which not only made her understand the academics of it, but get into the very heart of the matter and in some way, some mind-bogglingly obscure way, draw the link of the subject or action in question, to God.  While at times it was amazing to see how her thought process had worked out essential truths that the wise strive after for lives on end, at other times, her replies were so simple that they seemed almost unbelievable and yet, it was nothing save the truth that she saw or stated.

For instance, take the conversation between the local parson and Anna –

“Do you believe in God?”
“Yes.”

“Do you know what God is?”
“Yes.”

“What is God then?”
“He’s God.”

“Do you go to church?”
“No.”

Why not?
“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 catalogue went on- with all of me.”

That was it. To love with ALL of her… in a nutshell that was what Anna ever was. She tried to explain to Fynn how terrifically simple life was with Mister God at its centre and when he couldn’t grasp the idea, she laid it all out.

“Where are you?” she had said.

“Here, of course,” I replied.

“Where’s me then?”

“There!”

“Where do you know about me?”

“Inside myself someplace.”

“Then you know my middle in your middle.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Then you know Mister God in my middle in your middle, and everything you know, every person you know, you know in your middle. Every person and everything that you know has got Mister God in his middle, and so you have got his mister God in your middle too. Its easy.”

Anna had just explained the idea of identification and unification with God, through all that lives or doesn’t live. She had explained this on her own, without reading about it in a book or getting initiated by a teacher. And this wasn’t a one time, off-chance wise statement. It was something that was so integral and deeply assimilated into her that she seemed stunned at things which to her were so obvious but were totally ignored by others. For her, Mister God could be any size he wanted to be. “If he couldn’t be little, how could he know what its like to be a ladybird?” He wasn’t meant to be put into a box and labelled as this or that – he was meant to be free. “Mister God said ‘I am’ and that’s what he wants us all to say… We got to let Mister God be free. That’s what love is.” And boy, was she repulsed by the images of God and his battalion of angels all looking like humans, with heads and eyes and arms and legs. If God had a head with eyes, then he would only be able to see in front of him, whereas in truth, he could see all around him, so how could he have a head?
God wasn’t the prized possession of Man alone, but the entire universe and she sure put those who prided themselves to be servitors of Mister God in their right place when she said,

“If you get like Mister God, you don’t know you are, do you?”

“Are what?”

“Good and kind and loving.”

No charades for this morsel. If you know you’re being good, then you’re not being good…you’re being pretentious.

Speaking of which, it wasn’t that she was overly precautious or cunning for a six year old, knowing the right words that please others. If that were the case, she would neither have stumbled across the quintessence of ‘All that is God’ without reading nor been able to apply it in every moment and activity of her life. That is something a grown up can do, not a mite whose love and understanding of her Hero is utterly pure and natural. As Fynn says, “Anna was not only deeply in love with Mister God; she was proud of him. Anna’s pride in Mister God grew and grew to such dimensions that in some idiot moment I wondered if Mister God ever went pink with pleasure. Whatever feelings people have had about Mister God over the many centuries, I’m very sure of one thing- nobody has ever liked Mister God more than Anna.”

It feels imperative to let you glimpse into the world that would take a hold over Anna when she was in one of her “working out” moods. It is what could be considered as the rare “original thought” which one is blessed to experience in the course of a single lifetime and here was this child, spinning one thought after another, little realizing the damage she was doing to the sense of illusion that someone like me has, about having understood it all.

During these few weeks Anna slowly took stock of all she knew, walking about gently, touching things as if looking for some clue that she had missed. She didn’t talk much in this period. In reply to questions, she answered as simply as she could, apologizing for her absence by the gentlest of smiles, saying without words, “I’m sorry about all this. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve sorted this little puzzle out.” Finally the whole thing came to a head.

She turned to me. “Can I come to bed with you tonight?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Now,” she replied.

So there we were in bed, the streetlamp lighting up the room, her head cupped in her hands, and both elbows firmly planted on my chest. I waited. She chose to remain like that for about ten minutes, getting her argument in its proper order, and then she launched forth.

“Mister God made everything, didn’t he?”

There was no point in saying I didn’t really know. I said “Yes.”

“Even the dirt and the stars and the animals and the people and the trees and everything, and the pollywogs?” The pollywogs were those little creatures we had seen under the microscope.

I said, “Yes, he made everything.”

She nodded her agreement. “Does Mister God love us truly?”

“Sure thing,” I said. “Mister God loves everything.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well then, why does he let things get hurt and dead?” Her voice sounded as if she felt she had betrayed a sacred trust, but the question had been thought and it had to be spoken.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “There’re a great many  things about Mister God, we don’t know about?”

“Well then,” she continued, “if we don’t know many things about Mister God, how do we know he loves us?”

I could see this was going to be one of those times, but thank goodness she didn’t expect an answer to her question, for she hurried on: “Them pollywogs, I could love them till I bust,  but they wouldn’t know, would they? I’m million times bigger than they are and Mister God is million times bigger than me, so how do I know what Mister God does?”

She was silent for a little while. Later I thought that at this moment she was taking her last look at babyhood. Then she went on.

“Fynn, Mister God doesn’t love us.” She hesitated. “He doesn’t really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy, but Bossy don’t love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don’t love me. I love you Fynn, and you love me, don’t you?”

I tightened my arm about her.

“You love me because you are people. I love Mister God truly but he don’t love me.”

It sounded to me like a death knell. “Damn and blast,” I thought. “Why does this have to happen to people? Now she’s lost everything.” But I was wrong.

She had got both feet planted firmly on the next stepping stone.

“No,” she went on, “no, he don’t love me, not like you do, its different, its millions of times bigger.”

I must have made some movement or noise, for she levered herself upright and sat on her haunches and giggled. Then  she launched herself at me and undid my little pang of hurt, cut from the useless spark of jealousy with the delicate sureness of a surgeon.

“Fynn, you can love better than any people that ever was, and so can I, cant I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, people can only love outside, and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so its different. Mister God ain’t like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.”

It seemed to me to reduce itself to the fact that we were like God because of the similarities, but God was not like us because of our differences. Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love, and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable.

“You see, Fynn, Mister God is different because he can finish things and we cant. I cant finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so its not the same kind of love, is it?”

“Fynn, why do people have fights and wars and things?”

I explained to the best of my ability.

“Fynn, what is the word for when you see it in a different way?”

After a minute or two scrabbling about, the precise phrase she wanted was dredged out of me, the phrase, point of view.

“Fynn, that’s the difference. You see everybody has got points of view, but Mister God hasn’t. Mister God has only points to view.”

It seemed to me she had taken the whole idea of God outside the limitation of time and placed him firmly in the realm of eternity.

What about this difference between a point of view and points to view? This stumped me, but a little further questioning cleared the mystery. Points to view was a clumsy term. She meant viewing points.

Humanity in general had an infinite number of points of view, whereas Mister God had an infinite number of viewing points. That means that – God is everywhere. I jumped.

Anna burst into peals of laughter. “You see,” she said, “you see?” I did, too.

“There’s another way that Mister God is different.” We obviously hadn’t finished yet. “Mister God can know things and people from the inside, too. We only know them from the outside, don’t we? So you see, Fynn, people cant talk about Mister God from the outside; you can only talk about Mister God from the inside of him.”

The less said about Anna, the better. For my words can never do justice to what she was. Yes, was. Little, beautiful, mysterious, Anna, died at the age of eight. She fell from a tree and even in the last moments of her life, all she could think about was this precious Mister God, who she would soon be meeting. My first reaction to her death was one of shock and remorse. But then I realized that it was only obvious that Anna should be called back to that Divine body from which she had loosened herself, almost by mistake it would seem, for she didn’t belong here – the only place for her was in the middle of Mister God.

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    When I started skimming through the article “A Room with a view”, I had to slow down when I came across the conversation between the parson and Anna.

    And then the speed picked up; I was reading it like a novel, fully engrossed.

    When I finished reading it, I realized I had not been breathing properly. It always happens to me when my fundamental assumptions of life get shaken up. I realized I had a totally different understanding of God when compared to what I had about 10 minutes before.

    The past few days, I have been trying to pick holes in the various ideas about God set forth by Anna, and it has been a rewarding experience. No holes; only a much better understanding.