When author Glenys Nellist's grandchild Xander was three years old, he stood at the window one snowy Thursday afternoon and asked her, "Where's God?" This book arose in honor of his question.
Sacred writings from around the world encourage us to be aware of God's presence in all places and times. Here are just a few examples:
"One day in winter as [Brother Lawrence] was looking at a barren tree, stripped of its leaves, and considering how in a little while these leaves would reappear, green, followed by flowers and fruits, he received a profound awareness of God’s kindness and power that never left his soul since."
— Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence, translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher
"According to Jewish mystic teaching, God's presence, the Shechinah ('indwelling'), is everywhere, and there is no place where God is not present."
— Yitzhak Buxbaum, Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy
"Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah."
— Ibn al-Arabi, quoted in The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong
"Everything in the cosmos comes together to bring about the presence of one flower."
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Cultivating the Mind of Love
Nellist's book puts this wisdom into a form that three-to-five year olds can understand. With a nod to the moment of Xander's question, she starts in winter: "God is in the whisper of the gently falling snow." She continues on through daffodils, rustling leaves, a rippling river, buzzing honeybees, rainbow colors, and much more.
Illustrator Siam James depicts children and adults of varied skin shades and includes two active (playing ball, twirling a jump rope) children in wheelchairs. Her pictures show plenty of dogs, birds, cats, squirrels, and even dinosaurs. The latter are plush toys belonging to a boy whose father sings him a nighttime lullaby — another place where God is present.
The book carefully spans seasons, times of day, outdoors and indoors, and city and country, to give a complete picture of many environments on a child's scale. The environments are not limited to happy ones. Siam shows a mother comforting a frightened child as we read that "God is in the tears, in the sadness, in the pain" — a child-size version of Brother Lawrence's words: “When we practice the presence, we enjoy and become familiar with God’s divine company, speaking humbly and looking to them lovingly for support all the time, at every moment, without methods of limits, especially during times of temptation, pain, loneliness, exhaustion, and even disbelief and stumbling.”
Two of the 32 pages touch upon sorrow and goodbyes; the rest are devoted to hope, promise, and joy. Children are left with exactly the reassurance with which the book began: "Wherever you are ... God is there."