Eight years ago this week, I became a father.
And twenty months later, I became a father again.
Even though you have nine months to prepare to welcome a baby into your life, it is unfathomable how upside down your life becomes in the span of a few weeks. Those first few sleep deprived months of my son's life were a daze. You hold in your hands this vulnerable baby and the enormity of raising, shaping, caring for a life weights on your heart. The gospels tell us that Jesus came to us in the form of a baby. As much as we sing about a Silent Night and Holy Night when Jesus Away in a Manger, 'no crying he made,' there was an enormity of caring for Jesus that sat on the shoulders of Mary and Joesph that every parent can relate to.
It is too bad that the gospels don't have many stories about Jesus growing up. Luke 2:41 records a brief encounter Jesus had in the temple at age 12 with the leaders at Passover. But in some ways this is a foreshadowing of how Jesus will encounter the religious leaders at Passover when he came riding on a donkey at Palm Sunday and set in motion the holy drama of Holy Week. Luke's brief narrative ends with these words, "Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor." Which is a nice way of saying, he grew up.
Watching my son and daughter grow up is a blurry joy at times. Each child has a unique personality. My son is so serious at time and can be anxious about things (It is great when you see your own personality idiosyncrasies reflected in your child). He has a great sense of humor... that I don't always understand. My daughter is care free and has the ability to enjoy life deeply (It is great when you see personality idiosyncrasies you'd like to have reflected in your child). And every morning she has a slow....motion....mode...that...seems...to....take...for...ever...to...get... out...the...door...to...get...to...school.
Celebrating my son's birthday this week helped me realize that birthdays are a way we mark time. Both the passage of time as well as what is to come. My son already talks about when he can learn to drive a car or sit in the front seat. I am not someone who wants to pause time. I realize you cannot capture or contain moments in a bottle. I try my best to immerse myself in the moment, the joy of the moment. Even last night when I am standing on a hill freezing and can't feel my fingers from the cold watching my son play flag football. But, it takes practice to immerse myself in the moment. I can get caught up in looking back or looking forward. Marking time is less about the calendar than it is about noticing fully the present moment.
So, as the autumn air turns crisp around us. As more and more leaves swirl in the breeze, may you find ways to mark time in a way that opens you to traces of God's grace all around you. Blessings and peace and happy 8th birthday to my son!