Entering the world is also hard; it’s often painful and awkward.
Before I got pregnant, I had the blessing to attend the births of my nieces. What an experience! I could feel a spiritual presence. The lighting was low and warm. Both times my sister-in-law snuggled her baby on her soft chest and rested in a glowy ease.
My own experience giving birth was bloody and medical; it involved screaming—my own. My son’s lungs weren’t strong enough to cry. The lights were bright. The machines were beeping. Six or seven medical professionals ushered my son in the world six weeks early. They placed him on my chest for all of two seconds. Then they whisked him off to intensive care to give him help breathing. His underdeveloped lungs weren’t quite ready to sustain his own life.
It wasn’t a joyous time. I was terrified of losing him. I had been on bed rest during my pregnancy for five months. Finally my baby had arrived, but it was still dicey. Would he live? Would he have developmental problems?
My brother and sister-in-law came to the hospital to meet my son. I took them on a walk through shiny halls to the neonatal intensive care unit. We looked through the window at the small wire-covered baby inside a plastic box. They said he was beautiful. They congratulated me. It was hard to hear them. The sound of my worry was loud in my head.
My brother said, “You need a camera?” He pulled the strap over his head and gave me his camera.
A film camera was an extravagant present in the mid-1990s. I couldn’t have afforded one myself. I accepted the gift with a grateful heart.
I took many shots of my new baby, tiny in his box. I paid extra to have my photos developed in one hour. I could visit my son four times a day in the neonatal intensive care. In between visiting times, I gazed at the photos of him. The camera was the perfect gift at just the right time.
My baby lived. I took many photos of him growing up. Now my son is a strong young man who runs fast.
My brother died of suicide. I remember him, and I work on remembering his generosity. I want the stories of his life to overcome the difficulty of his death. It’s a process.
Right now, you have a gift that is a tiny seed waiting in your heart. Its power will only grow once you place it in the heart of another. It might be the act of giving away a possession like a camera. It could be an act of service, honest words, a homemade meal, a hug or a smile for a stranger. I challenge you to give this gift this week.
Will your gift stop suicide? I don’t know.
I do know generosity softens the world, and our world could use softening.
God, bless us to give
in your name.
Strengthen us to love
in your name.
Challenge us to change
in your name.
What is on your heart to give this week?