* I wrote this yesterday evening 12/1/11. To my great surprise (chronological) baby #2, Matthew, was born at 11:45 last night. It is to him I promise to share his hope and to whom I dedicate todays reflection…
Lately, there is a lot of them in my neighborhood. WIthin one mile of my house three babies are being born in as many months. Three. I feel like even I am going to be changing a lot of diapers just by law of odds. I think having babies is an extraordinary act of hope. This is, of course, true because it is some kind of faith in the life beyond our own lives being worth living. This alone inhabits the essence of trust. But that is not all…
Having children is a great act of hope is more than just imagining the future. Some parents have children believing the future is a crap shoot anyway. It is for these reasons I feel the need to put Whitney Houston to task (oh yeah, I mean it, I’ll box a diva). I don’t think children are the future much more than you or I are. Of course we expect them to live longer. But they are also just as much the present as we are.
Our children come to us not as our possessions but as strangers for whom we have the opportunity to offer them radical hospitality, and that for several years. We risk our hearts and maybe would give out lives for them. That is what we become today. That gives me hope about who we are and can be now. This means that parents have enough hope that they can get what they need to do this. They believe they can provide what a child needs to get them as far as adult interdependence. Our children ask something of us now and they very fact that they ask for our care and sustenance changes who we are radically. It makes us want to hope more than we already do. They widen our hearts to a love we never imagined we could know.
But any parent will tell you children are much more than needs. They have spiritualities, personalities, jokes, gifts to be welcome and love. They have so much love to give. They show up one day at your kneecaps and hand you a card they just decided to make for you in their room that says, ‘I love you,’ with a crayon picture of the whole family including the dog. .. see I am crying even now as I write this. Where are the refrigerator magnets?…
It is the participation of children in society today that can change who we are, what society is, and how we want to live that now. I am not waiting for our kids to fix the world we are cruising through, nor am I think I could fix it without the love and insight of our kids. Together we are forging hope for today so we can live in this world well, and become the best selves we are all meant to become.
Indeed a good portion of how the quality of a society is judged is by how it treats and welcomes its children. 10 year old vogue models, TV shows about how mothers resent their children, failure to provide services for the 13 million children who live in hunger in the U.S., and the fear that drives many of us to not welcome people with disabilties into our lives? This is not about waiting for the future for things to be better, this is consuming our children for our purposes today. Not matter what anyone tells you, this is in no way “pro-life.”
I have not conceived/fostered/adopted any children right now in my life. I don’t intend to. But I do have a lot of amazing children that I welcome, and therefor inescapably help raise… and there are at least three more coming. If nothing else, I know as a spiritual discipline I have to seek them out to spend time with them. They ask me to be my best self for them today. The question me, challenge, and provide for me a love as a pseudo-uncle that is different even from Uncles, parents, or siblings. Without them I cannot be my best self. It is one of many reasons I stay single. I hope to be that village that it takes to live together well. I hope.
I will let Whitney have this, “teach them well and let them lead the way.”