Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sara Grace

[T]o know our true selves is to know we are loved by God beyond all measure.
--Thelma Hall, Too Deep for Words

Our second daughter, Sara Grace, was born yesterday (April 7) at 8:55 AM. At birth, she weighed 7 lb. 9 oz. and was 20 and 1/2 in. long. Labor was mercifully only six hours. Through delivery, Christine held a calm and focus which, on reflection, seems to me to come from a spiritual depth, and, of course, grace.

Some people say that "Only people who have never had children believe that we aren't born with sin." And I used to agree. The idea of being born "into sin" has had a number of acceptable meanings: that people are born with the "propensity" to sin, that they find themselves in a "fallen" world, that they are born into a culture from which they inherit the language of the false self. These similar but differing understandings have in common that they are trying to make sense of some passages in the New Testament and of the fact that this world we live in is indeed "fallen" as we humans never stop hurting each other. I think that such ideas can be helpful at times.

However, the idea of "original sin" put in one particular way--that people are born as actual sinners, that is, as having already done something wrong or having some spiritual wrongness about them or having already "merited" some kind of punishment--is dangerous because it can lead us away from realizing the central goodness of people.

Now that I have seen two children into the world, I would reverse the saying I used to adhere to and would now say, "Anyone who thinks people that are born as sinners has never held an infant!" This too is hyperbole, but useful, I think.

Infants are not mature, of course, and they do have some big spiritual problems in front of them. So I am not saying that I would want to be an infant or to be infantile. But infants can remind us of our own central holiness; they can remind us of the fact that the center of who we are is the spirit of God. To say this is to say that, ultimately, neither sin nor the propensity to sin can tarnish, on the eternal level, the absolute loving holiness and omnipresence of God. The truth-fact of grace is greater than the need for grace. That Sara Grace has no false self can remind us that our false selves are false in that they are not who we really are and, gracefully, they too will fall away in eternity.


Erica said...

Congratulations, Paul! Your new little girl is so beautiful.

Thank you for your reflection on this important event and what it means for all of us. You have beautifully articulated a wonderful truth of God.

"But infants can remind us of our own central holiness; they remind us of the fact that the center of who we are is the spirit of God." --This has encouraged me deeply; thank you so much for sharing.

RC said...

Wow! Beautiful daughter! Beautiful reflection. Congratuations to you and Christine. We celebrate with you. And your reflection deepens our connection with you--and it deepens our connection with God. Thank you for sharing life with us!

Susan Price said...

Congratulations to all of you. I am moved by your reflections, and the reminder of who we are. Thank you for the pictures. Babies are a spectacular gift from the Father of all good gifts.

Daniel said...

Paul, thanks so much for sharing these great pictures and beautiful reflection! This adds to my already reflective Holy week. Blessings to you and your family!

living stones said...

Paul, Congratulations! Sara is beautiful, and as you so wonderfully described holding an infant can help make us newly aware of the love of God.

Practically speaking,I'm really glad for Christine's sake that Sara's birth "was mercifully only six hours." I was also deeply encouraged that she "held a calm and focus which, on reflection, seems to me to come from a spiritual depth, and, of course, grace." Wow, that's saying a lot.

We rejoice with you, and our thoughts and prayers continue to wing their way toward you. Blessings, Anna

Sarah said...

Congratulations, Paul, and thank you for so openly sharing your thoughts upon the birth of your new daughter. I, too, have been journeying from the viewpoint of humanity's total depravity to being able to see the holiness of God in each person. I was blesssed by your thoughts that so beautifully express my own.

Matt said...

Paul, congratulations! What an exciting time. Thank you for your beautiful reflection, it was very encouraging.


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