Got my first good look at my second daughter today--God, what a thing!--I can't believe it's almost been two years since the last "ultrasound encounter." It's my pleasure to introduce all of you to Katherine Ruth Wooten, our secondborn (God willing) daughter. If ultrasound behavior is any indication of post-birth personality (and it was with Hope--very active and all over the place), this one seems more subdued, calmly letting the nurse probe around her soft, perfect parts and resting comfortably as she grows. Time will tell. Sepa Dios.
One of my favorite psalms is 131 (132 if you're reading it in a Protestant Bible); as I read it tonight in Evening Prayers, things so obvious and so elementary, so basic leapt out at me...
"Remember, O Lord, David and all his meekness. How he made an oath unto the Lord, and vowed unto the God of Jacob: I shall not go into the dwelling of my house, I shall not ascend upon the bed of my couch, I shall not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, nor rest to my temples, Until I find a place for the Lord, a habitation for the God of Jacob. Lo, we have heard of it in Ephratha, we have found it in the plains of the wood. Let us go forth into His tabernacles, let us worship at the place where His feet have stood."Hope's godfather and I once noted that, in reflecting upon our respective upbringings, one of the key characteristics we could point to that our parents exemplified (at least in the area of faith) was consistency. Would that Hope and Katherine both see their father putting prayer even before sleep, putting the remembrance of God before all, preparing his own heart to be a place for the mighty One of Jacob, standing reverently and regularly before the altar to whence He has descended in invisible, solemn glory. It is this regularity and consistency regarding the things of God that does the most to impress the reality of faith upon a child.
"The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David, and He will not annul it: Of the fruit of thy loins will I set upon thy throne. If thy sons keep My covenant and these testimonies which I will teach them, Their sons also shall sit for ever on thy throne."Indeed, Christ has come from the line of David's seed: Praise be to the Holy One of Israel. Yet tonight there was, I think, an understanding of the Incarnation that only the newly fused flesh and bone, soul and spirit of a new "you" can bring; the glory of the Lord is not to be kept in the ethereal realms of hidden knowledge or transcendental meditation, escaping from the world and whatnot. Rather, the glory of the Lord--the crowning achievement of His love for man--the glory and treasure of God dwelling with and in man, is to be carried in and delivered to humanity through the earthen vessels of human bodies. Tonight as we kiss the image of the Christ, we glory in the knowledge that His flesh communes us to eternal life, His blood satiates our thirst for the eternal--and by honoring the image of this fleshy Savior, we affirm that it is indeed His being as flesh--as opposed to merely a philosophy or series of doctrines He might propose or teach (though this is included)--that saves us. We kiss the images of the Theotokos and all the saints because they are truly bearers of God, full of the Holy Spirit by God's grace and, in kissing their images, we affirm that they are by God's grace what Christ was in His very nature: communicators of the presence of God (the definition of Grace for us Orthodox) specifically through and in their physical bodies (and not in spite of them). They labor and serve, love, work, sweat and pray for the salvation of mankind, and we kiss the hardworking flesh that has glory running through its veins. God is with us and in us. May my two daughters grow to sit with Him in glory--healed in spirit, soul and body--as the Psalm says.
"For the Lord hath elected Sion, He hath chosen her to be a habitation for Himself. This is My rest for ever and ever; here will I dwell, for I have chosen her...There will I make to spring forth a horn for David, I have prepared a lamp for My Christ."May our home acknowledge Christ as King that He may abide here. Thanks be to God for His (second!) indescribeable gift.