My family awaits the birth of three children over the coming six months. A great-nephew is scheduled to be born this coming Wednesday. Another great-nephew will join our family in March. And, in late July another child [gender not yet known] will enter this world.
All of us know the experience of welcoming a newborn into our world and into our family. Anticipation grows as a child grows within the mother’s womb. Today’s 3-D imaging allows “pictures” to show the stage-by-stage growth of child — shown to friends and family, posted on a refrigerator — and even used by some on a Christmas card.
When the moment of birth arrives — despite 9 months of preparation and waiting — there is AWE and WONDER. What do we do now? What will this child become? Am I really ready for all the changes ahead?
While we all spent 9 months — or so — within the womb of our mother, at this point in life, all we can do is imagine what the experience was/is like.
As we embrace a pro-life spirit we think about the fragile-life that bursts forth at birth. We think about the dependency upon a mother for nourishment and safety. We think about the comfort and security provided by the womb.
And while parents and family may only wonder what a new life is to become, Isaiah [49:3-6] we are reminded that our God has known from before we were conceived in the womb what we — what and who every child, would be. In fact, we are taught that it was the Lord who FORMED us in the womb — formed to be a servant — a light to the nations. God is the one who will put a song into our mouths.
As we know well — once the child comes forth from the womb — the process of growth and formation continues. Birth is one moment, one point on the journey from conception to death. In a sense then, we leave one womb and enter into “many other wombs” for the growth to continue. There is the womb of family, the womb of neighborhood, the womb of school, the womb of relationships — and so on.
Let’s think about this for a moment — as my family prepares to welcome three new members, we need to be aware of the world into which we welcome them — hopefully a world of support and security — hopefully a world of nurture and care — hopefully a world of faith and hope, and positive influence.
Imagine the “womb” that children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria are growing up in. It is a womb of war, fighting, and sectarian conflict.
Imagine the “womb” that children born into and living in when poverty is prevalent 24-7. When a mother has eaten poorly and had poor pre-natal care — the child is affected. When a child moves into a home lacking heat/air — lacking food and poor hygiene. There are no books and few toys.
Imagine the “womb” that a child is born into where there is no faith — no trust in God — where people are motivated by material goals and self-fulfillment.
Imagine the “womb” a child enters when anger, yelling, and vulgar language is considered to be “normal.”
Imagine the “womb” that youthful offenders enter into — when they are sent to juvenile “correctional facilities” — where they are housed with little counseling and little help to start over.
YES — THE LIFE IN THE WOMB is important and we work to bring forth new children and to support all parents who await a child. But the womb of birth is just the first of many wombs that we — all children — go through from stage to stage in life.
Let us think of the womb that we provide for children in our own families! A balance of work and play? A balance of faith and reason? A world in which responsibility is taught?
Let us think of the womb that we provide for children in our schools! Do we send our kids to school or are we involved in their education at the school and at home? Do we support and help teachers to teach our children?
Let us think of the womb that we provide for our children in the community? Do we support the ARTS as well as Sports? Do we teach service to others? Do we witness to tolerance and understanding?
A child is born “neutral” — intolerance and prejudice are taught.
AND FOR US — what is the “womb” in which we find ourselves? A healthy balance of service and self-care? A good balance of work and play? A trust in God balanced by attention to the world around us?
No matter how young we are — or how old we feel — we are still being formed. Attitudes and perceptions are being formed.
The Spirit of God rests upon us — to lead us, to guide us, to form us.