It was nap time and I had snuggled into the big bed with my three-year-old after the last story book page had been read.
She was child number three so I was no stranger to the tricky questions kids can ask. This was an odd one, though. We weren’t a religious family, didn’t go to church or include God and the Bible in everyday conversation.
“Nanna said God knows everything we do and can see and hear everything but he doesn’t have eyes and ears. So how does he do that?”
Ah. Mystery solved. I answered as best I could and smiled when she wanted to know who looked after God and dressed Him, marveling at the workings of my child’s mind.
Subject closed, I thought. Then my writer’s mind clicked into gear. It wasn’t a conscious decision to write a picture book called Who Dresses God? I didn’t sit down, pen in hand, and plan out my story. I didn’t debate the pros and cons of using rhyme, or consider whether there was a market for this particular book.
It was one of those ‘gifts’ that turns up from time to time in a writing life; a story, poem or scene from a larger work that arrives without warning and the only effort on the author’s part is to commit the words to the page or screen.
Of course, after it was written and shared with family, I did approach publishers to see if anyone was interested. Over the years three publishers accepted the book but for one reason or another it was never published and eventually I filed it away and forgot about it.
In 2010 my dad died. A deeply spiritual man, he’d had a profound influence on my life. We’d had many discussions about the meaning of life and he’d left me his spiritual writing to share as I saw fit. While sorting through the dozen or so boxes of his manuscripts, I remembered my story and how much he’d liked it.
The publishing industry had changed radically in the meantime. Writers had more options. Advances in technology had seen to that. I decided to self-publish the book, to make it available to parents who also were confronted with the difficult task of explaining their belief in the existence of a higher being to a young child. Artist Veronica Rooke created the beautiful illustrations to accompany the text and Who Dresses God? finally came onto the market.
I’ve had many stories published since that nap time conversation and the three-year-old who wanted to know who dresses God is now the mother of two children aged nine and 11 with questions of their own about life.
No matter how many books I have published, the book she inspired will always have a special place in my heart. When a child asks, a mother will always do her best to answer.