Friday, May 2, 2014
The future is very much unknown to everyone. Still, most of us have a certain amount of predictability to our days. For instance, I can count on the fact that I will be changing several diapers each day for the next several months. Food will need to be cooked, laundry will need to be washed, dishes will inevitably spread over the counters and other clear spaces in my kitchen.
I know that in about four weeks (give or take a few days) I will go into labor, and afterward I have great confidence that I will hold a new life in my arms. That confidence is a blessing resulting from many blessings of medical advancement and centuries of fear removed. Even though I have confidence that my body will do what it is made to do, that the baby will follow all his/her normal birth procedures, the midwife will be there to ensure my safety, and I count on my husbands supporting presence, I still feel the weight of the unknown.
For me the act of birth is closely linked with death. Each time I have given birth, I have had conscious thoughts that somewhere else someone is dying. When my baby takes their first breath, I know that another has breathed their last. While I lay in exhausted rejoicing, others are plunging to sorrow. The words of Ecclesiastes, a time to live and a time to die, are inextricably linked.
I do not fear my own death, which is a mercy of the Lord, but in this time of preparing for a new life, I find it natural to think of preparation for death. From a practical standpoint I need to do several things: set up a baby's bed, wash linens, purchase diapers, make a will, arrange insurance documents. From a spiritual perspective I feel better prepared for death than for daily living, which requires so much patience and mercy. But each breath I take is gift from God, and the last breath I take will usher me into His glorious presence, so whatever I accomplish (or fail to finish) is in His hands. I hope to live with this new baby for many years, in order to see the faith they may have for death and for life, with all of it's unknown.