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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And now for something completely different.

I'm hopeful that the stuff I've written about Singing the Journey has been helpful to the faithful here at Philocrites. However, those posts clearly haven't generated much conversation. Heck, even my wife doesn't want to hear about STJ anymore. So, I thought I'd go in a new direction...

This week marks my return to churchwork after a three week paternity leave. I took three weeks when our daughter was born in late March, then three more when my wife went back to work in early July. It has been a great privilege to have so much time (especially PAID time) to be with my kid during these initial weeks and months.

I feel a certain grief knowing that I'm not going to have this kind of time with her ever again. Sure, there will be days and weeks here and there, but I doubt I'll ever have this kind of time to just sit with her in my lap, pondering the simple beauty and elegance of the miracle of life. It's some of the best work I've done in years.

Today I re-read the email I sent the day after she was born. It was jarring to be taken back to that experience of excitement and joy mixed with the gut-wrenching anxiety that went with it. You see my wife had undiagnosed pre-eclampsia, and at 37 1/2 weeks she came pretty close to complete renal failure. That's when the baby's systems started shutting down. Luckily my wife's newly discovered maternal instinct kicked in, and we went to the hospital to check things out. Our daughter was born 90 minutes later, via emergency c-section.

As they took both women to their respctive ICU's, the doctor told me that if we had waited until the next day the chances were almost 100% that they both would have died. Ten days later we were all home, everyone totally healthy and happy. But those ten physically and emotionally intense days literally changed my life. The understanding I gained about the fragility and preciousness of life is just now starting to sink in, and may never be fully mine to grasp.

I wonder what the world would be like if more people, especially fathers (most espeically fathers who command armies!), were expected by the larger society to take the time just to sit with their kids. You don't have to do anything else. Just sit there. And smile back at them. Wow. On a list of many extraordinary blessings, these six weeks were perhaps the greatest gift my church community has ever given me.

Copyright © 2005 by Jason Shelton | Posted 26 July 2005 at 11:14 PM

Previous: Flirting with Emergent, part II.
Next: Flirting with Emergent, part III




July 27, 2005 02:04 AM | Permalink for this comment

Jason, as a father who had to go through an emergency c-section myself, I hear you loud and clear.

My son somehow managed to wrap the umbilical cord around his neck 3.5 times. It was the single most frightening experience I ever had to endure. I felt as helpless as a human being who really wanted to do something could have felt. Everything worked out fine. My son is now seven years old (and has a set of twin sisters as well). My wife is fine, although she still bears a scar which is a constant reminder of that day, which is not a negative as a result of the happy ending.

You're right, children are an extraordinary blessing. Whenever I get caught up trying to define G-d, or figuring out what in the world G-d is, or am distracted by popular connotations of the miraculous or the supernatural, I go looking for my kids. It's all - and I mean ALL - right there. Amazingly enough "It" is usually eating Cheerios for breakfast and is tucked under Spiderman and Barbie blankets at night.

Great post, and have fun with your family.


July 27, 2005 05:49 PM | Permalink for this comment

Jason and Shawn,

Perhaps this is the most satisfying revelation of parenthood. Before our son came to us (through the profound gift of adoption, after years of struggling to create a family) I did a lot of wondering about my place in the universe and the reason for my existence. Not anymore.

Our little ones grow up so fast. Enjoy every minute!


July 28, 2005 12:24 AM | Permalink for this comment

I didn't see your previous posts about STJ. I bought a few copies at GA. I also bought your CD along with 3 others. I liked yours the most out of the 4. I really enjoyed singing in the choir under your direction. Having a child is great, I understand, but you have created purpose for your life that's separate from your child. It's a good thing, because some day you might be like me - up past midnight waiting for my young adult offspring to come for a brief visit. :-)

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