¡Es una niña! ¡Te esperamos, "mija!"
Today I saw my daughter for the first time. As soon as the image came up--a grainy, squiggling little mass with a HUGE head--my breath literally caught in my throat. There she is--a human being who, just a few months ago, did not exist save in the mind of God and who will be a major part of my life, Lord willing, for years and years to come. Diapers. Peek-a-boo. Baptism. Tantrums. Confusing Spanish and English upon learning to talk. Sing-a-long with Father (and Daddy!) during Divine Liturgy. First steps. Dress-up. First day of school. Sleepovers. Homework. Sibling Rivalry? Sports? Music? Dating (shudder). Graduation. College (at her parents' insistence!). Marriage?
My heart swells; ¡yo voy a ser "papi" el junio que viene! This little ball of flesh and spirit, only one pound right now, has been entrusted to me. Her mouth, now silent, will speak words that melt my heart, and--unfortunately--words that will break it. Her eyes--brown like mine or blue like Audra's?--will see the Lord risen on Pascha, will know that Christ IS risen, that He is her Creator, Master and Lord, and that He loves her more than even I could. I have eighteen years--I hear they're gone before you even turn around!--to be directly in this little one's life, and have her be in mine.
This is committment. This is life seen on a monochrome screen. This is God not giving up on us yet. This is my firstborn, Hope Elizabeth Wooten.
Through the prayers of St. Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner, Lord Jesus Christ my God, have mercy upon my unborn daughter Hope Elizabeth, for she is Yours.
Unfortunately, this happy day was somewhat marred by the news that a freshman student at the school at which I teach was murdered last night. Her name was Lan, and she was fourteen years old. I never taught Lan, nor had I ever met this young Vietnamese track runner. I do, however, teach many on the track team, and you can see it on their faces. Usually bright, they've sunken in sorrow or narrowed in anger or tightened in confusion and worry. The police aren't talking, for some reason. Prayed this prayer on my plan period today:
Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend the soul of Thy handmaiden Lan, and beseech Thee to grant her rest in the place of Thy rest, where all Thy blessed Saints repose, and where the light of Thy countenance shineth forever. And I beseech Thee also to grant that our present lives may be godly, sober, and blameless, that we too may be made worthy to enter into Thy heavenly Kingdom with those we love but see no longer: for Thou art the Resurrection and the Life, and the Repose of Thy departed servants, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."Into Thy hands, O Lord..." Away from all the turmoil and into the hands of Someone Who--let it never be doubted--loves us and Whom we can trust!
"...grant her rest in the place of Thy rest..." No more weeping over broken homes, no more fear over threats from the men in her neighborhood...finally, child...just rest.
"...grant that our present lives may be godly, sober and blameless..." This horrible event sobers me. My life is not my own, nor is it permanent, nor is it sturdy. It can be snuffed out, or as St. James says, it's no more than a vapor that dissipates and is gone. "It's later than you think," Fr. Seraphim Rose declares. "Hasten therefore to do the work of God."
"For Thou art the Resurrection and the Life and the Repose of Thy departed servants, O Christ our God..." This senseless, tragic waste of life is not permanent. That fragile body will open its eyes once more, the chest will heave again, the blood will flow. No amount of cruelty or pointless violence can stop this.
Lord, have mercy upon her. And have mercy upon all those who serve You.