I remember standing a few steps away from where all the excitement was and I was smiling. I couldn't get the most ridiculous and silly grin off my face. She - my wife - got most of the attention, and I was the 'coat rack'...and that was just fine with me. Guests would come into our room, shake our hands, (I mean...mostly her hands), maybe leave a gift, balloons, or flowers, and then leave. Smiles. Hugs. Tears. Pictures. Stories. And more stories. I've had the utmost pleasure of experiencing these moments twice...at the births of our three children. These brief encounters with joy and happiness usually went on for several days and then life would go back 'to normal'. Or not.
Actually, as I recall, life never returned to 'normal'. Unannounced visitors stopped coming by. The phone was quiet. Cards and flowers stopped arriving. It was a stark contrast to the rush of excitement that was so palpable just days before. As new parents, we were vacillating between joyful anticipation and terrifying fear. When the last of the visitors left, I recall looking at my wife, who then was gently rocking two babies in unison, and saying, "Now what are we supposed to do?" The lives of our son and daughter that were hidden 'skin-deep' for nine months were now an actuality, and our lives have never resembled anything close to that of pre-parenthood. Life again would change dramatically, although with more predictability, with the birth of our third child, a daughter, just three short years later.
With all these changes came a few constants - smiles and tears, laughing and crying, controlled chaos and serene calm. We learned quickly enough that the crying will stop - eventually. Temper tantrums will become hugs and cuddles - eventually. And the occasional "I wish you were more like..." will become "I'm so thankful you are..." - eventually. Parenthood is like a roller coaster with near vertical drops without any warning, and twists and turns so sudden and unexpected. But I know that in a few minutes I'll be getting off the ride, walking down the steps toward the exit, and I'll look back at the ride and say, "Let's do it again!" And, like a kid, I'll run back to be first in line.
This Christmas, I wondered if God smiled proudly when the shepherds and wise men visited Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Was he taking in all that he could? Was he listening to Mary recount the story of not being able to find a place to sleep? I know Joseph must have...but did God? We know the angels rejoiced, but what did God do? With my finite i.e. human understanding of God's majesty and omnipotence I wondered if God wept when Jesus was born? Did he cry knowing that his son would endure the slings and arrows of humankind? Did he mourn knowing that his only son would endure hell and agony for three days? Was he anxious to get the whole crucifixion and resurrection thing over and done with knowing that the day would be here before 'he knew it'? I don't know.
I know one thing...Jesus' heavenly father never said, "Lets do it again."
About thirty-three years later, somewhere on a hill outside of Jerusalem, the Father, through his Son, declared, "It is finished."
Merry Easter to all, and to all a good night!