The other day I was finishing up something that seemed very important at the time when the baby woke up from a nap and started fussing. Chopping up veggies for dinner or writing the last sentence of an email, I can’t even remember anymore. In the moment I thought, “I’ve got to do this right now.”
Hildie wasn’t all out crying. She was just starting to make “not happy noises” as my kids call them. My five-year-old exclaimed, “MOM! Hildie’s CRYING!” And I responded, “I know, just a second, I’m finishing up something important.” To which she said in a disgruntled tone, “WHAT COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN A BABY!”
She was right. What, indeed? I could think of absolutely nothing more important than a baby. But I so easily get wrapped up in things that seem important. And of course, they are…a little. Yes, we need to eat dinner. Yes, I do need to climb out of the horrifying abyss that is my overflowing inbox. But a baby….that’s a different level of important.
And yet, she’s so small. She doesn’t accomplish things, produce things, organize things, coordinate things. What she requires is an abundance of effort and care. But our value is not based on our accomplishments, our productivity, or our independence. Our value is God-given, surpassing any human rubric, immeasurable.
After this last pregnancy of debilitating nausea, constant discomfort, and exhaustion she was almost born in the hospital parking lot. But we made it to a delivery room (barely….like BARELY) and as soon as she arrived in the outside world and I held her in my arms I whispered, “this is worth it…this is worth it all.” Just one moment with her. The curve of her cheek, her downy ginger hair, the long eyelashes above her grey, almond-shaped eyes, her tiny digits wrapped around my index finger. The goodness of her existence floored me. I could hardly breathe.
7 weeks later, eyes swollen, I attended the visitation preceding the Requiem Mass of a close friend’s baby girl, born into heaven at 37 weeks. Her tiny body was so perfect, so beautiful. The grief over her loss filled the air. We breathed it into our lungs. It was, it is, so very heavy. The weight of the loss is so great because the goodness of this child’s existence is so overwhelming, because the fact that this little person was created by God and her parent’s love is a truth so rich and so deep, unfathomable. The cathedral’s pews were filled with so many people for Mass, grieving someone we will not meet in this life. Because she is so important, so beloved.
8 weeks later it was Christmas and we celebrated what my five year old understands and what each of us touched by and grieving our friend’s saint in heaven feels more deeply: that God came to Earth as the most important thing imaginable–a baby. An infant carried in the arms of a mother whose fierce love crushes the devil himself underneath her feet. It is the Love of God made flesh, turning our false measurements of power and productivity upside down. “Yes, I will come, mighty to save,” He tells us. And He did–as the most important and powerful thing in the world, a helpless baby–glorious, wonderful, weighty, filling this dark world with the light of His Love.