My father died in November, so I’m reminded of death from time-to-time this month. I have friends and relatives who were born in November, so it’s also a time to think of birth. It’s interesting how we consider the two complete opposites, one a beginning and the other an ending.
But are they really? Or are they maybe different words for the same thing? Is death the end of our story or the beginning of a sequel that opens with a familiar scene?
Try to imagine yourself the day before you were born.
You’re floating in a dark, temperature-controlled bag of fluid. All of your senses work, but they’re mostly useless where you are. You’re growing inside of your parent, literally surrounded by her and attached to her by a cord that brings you everything you need to live and grow and develop.
Of course, you don’t comprehend any of this. You’re in the world, but not fully part of it yet. Oblivious to most of it.
If someone could somehow communicate with you in the womb and tell you about the world that is all around you — so much to taste, touch, feel, smell, see and experience — it would sound like fiction, so far removed from what you’ve experienced. Too good and too weird to be true. It might even scare you a bit.
You’re safe in your little womb, which is all you‘ve ever known. And you would want to stay there, even though it’s getting cramped and uncomfortable.
But you don’t get to choose. Ready or not, you’re born. You emerge into the greater world. Someone cuts the cord. And there waiting for you: Parents with outstretched arms and tear-stained cheeks, ready to pull you close, hug you and tell you that they’ve waited a lifetime for this moment.
Your parents have probably retold the story of that amazing moment many times. They may have embellished it along the way, though that doesn’t make it any less true. On one special day every year, you celebrate the story of how your life began.
It’s a wonderful story, and it isn’t finished. The story of our birth is still being written.
We’ve traded one womb for another. Simply put, God is pregnant with us. We’re living inside our parent, literally connected to the one who made us. We stay in our latest three-dimensional womb for days or weeks or years or decades, ideally growing and developing into a person who loves and lives like our parent. Just like the first time, there’s much beyond our womb that we don‘t know and can‘t understand.
We like our womb and want to stay here, even as we outgrow it and feel confined by it. Eventually, we have another cut-the-cord moment. And we shouldn’t be surprised to find our parent waiting for us with tear-stained cheeks and outstretched arms to pull us close, hug us and tell us this moment has been an eternity in the making.
And then what? Only the sequel writer knows.
None of us knows what that moment is like until we experience it. The thought of it scares us. We don’t want to leave here. What comes next? Whatever it is, it’s beyond our comprehension. But that’s OK.
All we can do is trust that the parent who loves us enough to give us that first birthday has much more in store for their beloved child. A sequel full of surprises, if you will, with an opening sentence that sounds familiar.
It begins with a birth.