Some months ago when my expanding belly was only slightly larger than a watermelon, a visiting priest asked me when the little one was expected to arrive. August 6th was my answer to which he smiled and pointed out that would be the Feast of the Transfiguration.
As the months passed the excitement grew about the prospect of greeting my newest blessing on such a significant day. Many of my friends recall the feast day birth dates of all of their children, but to be honest I’d never really given it a thought. However, this time around was different (as we’d lost four babies between our youngest and this one and according to my medical records, at 42yo, I’m considered an “elderly” mama) so it seemed all the more significant that this child should enter the wide world on an important liturgical day.
Of course as my watermelon enlarged to state fair worthy size (causing me to lose all sight of my feet) and a good night’s sleep became an elusive dream, the idea of holding out until my due date looked less and less enticing. So when contractions kicked in two and a half weeks ahead of schedule, I was happy to forgo the hoped-for plan of telling my little one he/she was born on the Feast of the Transfiguration.
So in the hour of mercy on July 20th, my husband announced the arrival of another perfect son. Relieved of the pains of labor and ecstatic to be holding a newborn again, every other idea disappeared from my mind like diet plans when someone hands you a piece of chocolate cake.
The joy in our household was palpable as five big brothers and two older sisters took turns gently cradling sweet number eight. As for me, I was over the moon in love with this precious newborn and all my hazy, postpartum thoughts revolved around his every need. Diapers, receiving blankets, onesies and sleep gowns, cooing, grunting and breast milk gulping all enraptured me. Locked in on those innocent gray eyes, our nursing sessions enshrouded the two of us in a peace that resembled my hours in adoration. The worries and distractions of the outside world were mere echoes in the distance and I longed for time to stand still so I could bask in this bliss.
Oh how quickly time passes though and life beckons us back into its rhythmic routine. As dirty laundry piled up and dust collected, my promise to sit still, recover and soak in these early moments became increasing difficult. My internal Martha, insistently tapping on my shoulder, pointed out the chores left undone. Add to that some sleep deprivation and my teary, tired self entertained a bit of grumblings. If only I could get three consecutive hours of deep slumber; if only I could empty my arms long enough to scrub all the bathrooms; if only I could nap with the baby; if only my other children could read my mind; if only I could finish a blog post; if only those supermom powers were real.
And then there I was, reclining again in my rocking chair attached to my two week old nursing partner, when the feast day rolled around. Using my free hand to navigate the internet on my cell phone, I read the day’s gospel and tried to imagine the glory of Jesus made manifest through His radiant face and sparkling white clothes. What awe and wonder must have Peter, John and James felt when they rubbed the sleep from their eyes and discovered they weren’t dreaming. A seemingly ordinary trek up to a quiet mountaintop with their Teacher transformed in an instant.
The three Apostles probably had expectations beforehand. Perhaps, they’d wondered how long they’d be away, maybe they took into account the need for provisions, but how could they have been prepared for what they were about to experience? Jesus’ transfigured appearance altered their vision. Moses and Elijah’s presence challenged their reality. The Voice from on high left them silent.
Redirecting my attention back to my ravenous suckling son, I recognized our Lord’s radiance nestled in the crook of my arm. This perfect creature mirrors his Creator; and the Creator has the power to perpetually transfigure our world.
Indeed, a new family member means a changed routine, more laundry and less sleep. Sadly, our culture often weighs the gift of a child on this secular scale, but to do so is to remain sleeping on the mountaintop (or perhaps to never ascend its height in the first place.) Because if Christ is within us, than His glory is made manifest through each one of us. Understanding this truth can transform our relationships and our seemingly mundane lives.
Of course I’m still head over heels with this precious innocent (as I am also with my other slightly less innocent broodlings), but rather than beg for the clock to stop I need to open my eyes to see God’s enduring glory shining in every moment. If God allows the chores to pile up, let me offer up my want to have a tidy house and savor the time spent doting on a child. If He fills my hours with needy children, let me choose to be a joyful servant. If a thousand distractions impede my desire to write, let me be satisfied to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving instead.
If I’m too tired to complete a thought, let me simply rest in His presence.
While it was a lovely notion that this little one was anticipated to arrive on such a beautiful feast day, apparently he was ready ahead of time. But thinking of it now, perhaps, it was me who needed the extra two and a half weeks of time before I was ready to be truly transfigured by Christ.