Tuesday, April 10, 2007

And I Am Not the Same

This baby lies across my back, milk-drunk. A sleepy smile, some automatic reflex, spreads across his crooked lips for an instant, followed by a scowl. His eyes dart around behind their lids. What must babies dream of? Giant breasts? Or in the case of Grayson, Avent bottles circling around him madly bidding him to feast the wonders of Similac formula?

I have learned that time passes quickly in the presence of an infant. Already I see miraculous changes in him. He is different than two weeks ago when he hardly opened his eyes. Now he watches, and his eyes cross and focus and refocus. Time passes quickly for mothers too, or at least for this mother. I begin to gaze at him as he lies asleep in my arms, and I look up and ten minutes has passed and I wonder if the clocks are wrong. I remain fixed on his face, amazed that I could love something so fiercely, so protectively.

Throughout my CPE experience (for those of you not in the chaplaincy business, CPE is the crucible which either kills or shapes you as a chaplain, it's the drill camp of hospital work, the grunt work whereby you are overworked and underpaid and taught that you will learn to love it), I was reminded that I did not completely fathom the love that God had for me, that I could not completely accept God's grace in my own life. Once, in my consultation interviews, the Spanish Inquisition/Therapy Session which brings you to the core of yourself, someone who had read my portfolio but didn't know me well said, "Christen, can you imagine God loving you as a loving parent cradles their newborn?" And I said, "I think so." But I was wrong, because the love I have for this helpless child stops me in my tracks. It makes me catch my breath. And I realize how impossible it has been for me to fathom God's love for me.

This is all so startlingly new. I am exhausted. I am exhilirated. I am not the same.


Anonymous said...

I'm reading through tears. I rememember it so well -- that feeling of love that literally takes your breath away. Twenty one years later, it's still that way although the love is not usally accompanied by those early feelings of surprise. Today, it's more a part of the fabric of what makes me, me. Today I take for granted that I would put myself between my child and danger without a second thought.
But I do remember when it was such a new feeling -- that overwhelming, overpowering love -- that it shocked and even frightened me. And as she grew I often felt like I'd put little feet and legs on my heart and was letting it run around in the world. I still feel that way sometimes.
In my "Forward Day by Day" the March 10 meditation writer said, "A monk in California spoke to me once of how, at it's best, maternal loves comes closest to God's unqualified delight in us..." and you've captured that beautifully.
Chris (in Virginia)

Mrs. M said...

Thank you.

I've felt so lucky to have RevGals lately, as my husband and I discuss how we can let children be a part of our future. I'm glad to see so many women for whom children lend beauty, not just chaos.

"imagine the darkness in love with the light." said...

i don't know how a mother loves a child but i love some of my mothers just the same. i love them with all that i have and would gladly go in there place for whatever it is that would be required of me to save them.