Friday, June 19, 2015
We are born tiny and vulnerable like our new little granddaughter that I held for the first time last Monday on our 30th Anniversary. We are still the children of two parents, a man and a woman, and no matter what horrors science may imagine, the product of many miraculous processes that those of us with faith believe to be wrought by a benevolent God with a purpose in all, especially for us -- because it is a rare human that actually believes they are are not a unique special creation with a purpose.
For my granddaughter, that is true to infinity and beyond!
Our ancestry reaches back through generations of specific grandparents, great grandparents, and onward. If we just take the time since Christ, we have a bit over 2000 years divided by 20 (the usual "generation" number) -- so 100 x 2 for both ancestors. Each of our whole individual ancestry since Christ could sit in a typical church sanctuary or large college lecture hall.
That is reality as we know it -- we are products of an imperfectly known biology that includes DNA mixing over generations according to some rules of dominant and recessive along with random inputs over time -- and a lot of "unknown magic" or divine direction. We don't "identify as" what is in those genes, we ARE what was in them. It is called being. Some of us also believe that a unique and eternal spirit indwells this earthy body -- for some, "it's just stuff".
Only really being a grandparent gives the meaning to the blessing of Psalm 128:6 "May you live to see your children's children". With age also comes perspective.
One of the surprises of my life was how emotional it was to first hold our newborn children -- tears of joy came on suddenly and surprisingly. I didn't expect it -- possibly partially because the previous generations of males had largely been complete restricted from delivery rooms. Mine was the generation that it became MANDATORY. While I very much enjoyed the experience, it was one of those things that shaped me on "progress".
For having children, we "progressed" from no male that wasn't a doctor being allowed in the delivery room, to it being totally mandatory for the father to be there -- weak stomach, worried about blood, not going to deal well with your wife in pain? FORGET IT! ... you WILL be there! I grew up in a fundamentalist church -- there is absolutely no question that the "fundamentalist impulse", where if an idea is "good", it must be mandatory and if it is "bad" it must be prohibited, is totally active in all humans all the time.
Having a grandchild has convinced me yet again that whether it is divine or just "natural", it is no accident that we are strongly wired to emotionally react to being a parent/grandparent at levels that we are likely farther from really understanding psychologically and socially than we are from understanding "what is life?" biologically. The problem of our human conceit to believe that; "society/culture is "built by man", so therefore we understand it" is covered well in "The Fatal Conceit". Short answer -- a fish describing "wet" has some of the problem.
So our culture has been killing marriage, the stable family, having children and families staying together so the birth grandparents know the birth offspring for so long that we have lost touch with what is really "divinely/naturally the way of life". In or efforts to "make it better" have we again managed to obscure one of the greatest joys of life, much more available to most than other "peak experiences"?
We have celebrated the single parent, the blended family, etc so much for so long that we have somewhat lost sight of what is the true / good / best / normal / spiritual that life can offer. It as if seeing a video of mountains or the ocean became the standard of REALLY seeing them because "not EVERYONE gets to REALLY see the mountains or the ocean, so it ISN'T FAIR to celebrate actually seeing them!".
Only it **IS FAIR**! In fact, denying the joy of real mountains, oceans, sunsets, redwoods, glaciers, etc, etc doesn't make it better for those that are unable to experience them first hand, it makes it WORSE for all! None of us can experience everything possible first hand -- nor would we want to -- say skydiving, free climbing, handling poisonous snakes, swimming with sharks, etc. When we see the "downside" in something, we are rather happy to have "The Crocodile Hunter" tell us all about it, but ALL of our experience is limited, not just the stuff we are scared of.
One only has to be a grandparent for a little bit and "the club" opens up -- it is one of those "circles of life". You have to "know to know". All the feelings and stories come tumbling out of the other grandparents because "now it is OK to share" -- otherwise it would have been "bragging". It is as if mountains were kept nearly secret because discussing how cool they are would be somehow wrong.
We deal with all manner of limitations -- some of us can't have kids, for some of us, life doesn't work out so it can happen. Some of us are in wheelchairs, some of us are blind, some of us just have next to no athletic ability (me), YET, for some reason we are all very willing to celebrate Curry, James, Rodgers, etc. Their experience INCREASES our experience -- as it should.
Certainly, we should ALSO celebrate whatever adjustments can be made -- wheel chair Olympics, eyeglasses, adoption, blended families, etc, but we ought never make color blindness "normal". That doesn't make anyone's life better, but rather diminishes us all. Seek the purest and best blessings and celebrate them -- and always be thankful for even the paintings of mountains as well.
May you see real mountains, real oceans, and may you live to see your children's children!
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