Editor’s note: As the troupe finds itself waiting again for a new member, a re-featuring of this post seems appropriate.
It’s like popcorn popping: you hear the last kernels turning into something wonderful, but you can’t be sure it’s time yet to take that goodness and partake. The baby’s not popping, but it does squirm, and as my wife’s stomach still holds our addition-to-be we sit waiting, wondering, and preparing for a little person with a lot of people ready to help.
C.S. Lewis, along with many Catholic theologians, believe we (humans) actually return home when we die. The belief goes: there is a place already etched in Heaven, in which our complete selves will fit perfectly. Life is the journey to rediscover who we truly are, and must work to return to being.
This belief makes the “going home” aspect to death all the more pertinent. I admit this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in thinking of my own life experiences and credo it all seems to make sense.
And with that in mind, the baby’s arrival is all the more powerful. Not only have we been blessed and entrusted with a new life, but also will we guide always this person in his or her journey home. If the baby were able, I wonder what questions s/he would like to ask, or maybe more accurately, what answers would s/he like to have at the ready.
I’m penning a song–or a poem, I haven’t decided–about this idea. Assuming the baby could understand our answers, what should our first conversation consist of?
Dad: Hi Baby.
Baby: Who are you? What happened?
Dad: Well…I’m your dad. Your mom and I made you with love, and we’re your people. We’re the ones to teach, love, and care for you as you find your way in this world.
Baby: I’m scared. I don’t know what I’ve been through. I don’t know who I am.
Dad: I know Baby. We all went through what you’ve just done. Life is all about finding out who you are, and what you can do. You will have choices, and challenges, and loves and fears. But if you’re willing and lucky, you’ll find wisdom. And if you need help, we’ll be here.
Baby: I’m still confused…but I’m willing to keep going. You’ll stay with me, right?
Dad: I’ll stay with you.
As with most things I take this responsibility of fatherhood infinitely seriously. My experiences and my lessons learned will now meet a new soul. And in teaching, I will also continue to learn and grow as a man.
As my life has been influenced heavily by my religious beliefs, so too will my lessons be rooted in them. I pray for the clarity and patience to share my wisdom with my child, and for my child to have the depth of spirit to listen.
Passing on experience is a monumental responsibility for me. Buddhists say experience is the way to Nirvana, and once your Karmic debt has been paid, you cross over. Returning home to your spirit’s true form is a similar notion. Living life builds experience, and moves a person toward the next step, whatever it might be.
I’m not naive. I know being a dad means a lot of things. Changing diapers, making bottles, fighting boogeymen, playing catch, helping with math, giving advice about girls, giving advice about being a man, giving advice about being a person.
All of this will be hard, and all of this will be tiring, but I take all of this to heart. I will do my best, for as long as I’m honored to do.