There are those moments in life that stay frozen in your memory. They aren’t like a replay or a flashback, but a place where time becomes an inadequate, linear measure of life. In these moments, time and space fall away. You experience clarity and revelation, seeing both the future and the past. These moments are spiritual, in that the broader meaning of life is revealed.
These moments don’t occur often. At almost 48 years old, I’ve only experienced this a handful of times. One of the times I experienced this was the morning after my son was born. His delivery had been particularly long and difficult. There were complications and although he was scheduled to be a cesarean section, due to the rural country hospital he was born in and his mother’s persistent struggle, the surgeon never arrived in time to perform the c-section. This due to my obstinate efforts to deliver naturally before he arrived. There was a doctor, a registered nurse, a surgical nurse, an anesthesiologist, the surgeon (who’d just arrived), my husband, and myself all packed into a small operating room when my son was born. My son had been experiencing a drop in heart rate during my contractions for almost 24 hours. He was hung-up on my tailbone and when my water broke, this re-positioned him. The mood in the room was one of heightened anxiety. I was exhausted, over medicated, vomiting between contractions, and shaking violently from shock. I was barely conscious. On the last contraction, when I pushed him into the world, everyone in the room was cheering and yelling that I could do it. I don’t remember his cry or the feel of him against my body; when they laid him upon my chest. What I do remember was the cheering, clapping, and tension release of the atmosphere in the room. When the clapping died down the nurse asked me what his name was, I had no idea. I lay there powerless to recall the name my husband and I chosen for our son. I remember saying she would need to ask Tom, my husband, who had left the room. I’m not sure if I passed out or if I drifted off to sleep, but I have no memory of leaving the delivery room, I only remember waking up in a hospital room the next day. That was the day that time froze.
My husband had gone home to shower and pick up our daughter from his mom’s house. I was alone with my new baby in the hospital room. Since I was nursing him, the nurse had brought him in and left us while I nursed. When he’d finished nursing, I laid him on my lap and peeled back the layers of blankets and clothing he wore due to the Minnesota January temperatures. I’d felt distant from him due to the complicated delivery and my exhaustion. I started to touch his legs, then his feet, counting each toe. With each touch he looked at me more intently, as if considering me. Knowing Him now, I’m sure he was debating, cautiously weighing his ambivalence against my convictions. I was unaware then that our relationship would always be so. That we would always weigh our perspectives against each other’s. That we would always be shadows of one another’s thoughts. At that moment, time and space fell away. I saw then that He belonged to God. While all children come to us and belong to God, this experience transcended that of typical experiences. The future and the past were revealed through this very old soul, in a brand new body. It was not my future and past that were revealed to me, but his. It was not the course of his life that was altered, but mine. It was not a religious experience, but a spiritual one. In this glimpse, I knew that this tiny person was borrowed to me for a greater purpose. I experienced an epiphany.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on my son’s birthday, each of the wise men brought Christ gifts. Each gift presented to Christ, foreshadowed the coming events of His life and death. Those events would bring us salvation. The wise men experienced an event that transcended time and space. A frozen moment, I’m sure comparable to mine. A moment of knowing. The future and the past were delivered to baby Jesus within these gifts. Everything that happened before and after that moment was altered for humanity. Nothing about the wise men following a star and arriving at the stable where Jesus lay swaddled was random. There are no random moments after all, only ordained moments. In this same way, the birth of my son altered the course of my life, bringing me gifts of salvation. His existence altered my life, my awareness of this epiphany, allowed me to embrace what was to come. I knew he was the gift that would foreshadow the coming events of my life. He was the deal breaker, the life changer, the realization of all things possible.
My son was born 24 years ago today, on the Feast of the Epiphany. I think all mothers believe their children are special. My daughter is a beautiful young women, exceptionally and atypically “not of this world.” She is special to me, and though I have yet to write about it, she has also altered my life. However, this frozen moment in time, my epiphany, explains a unique connection in the relationship between my son and I. After 24 years, I understand this experience on a linear plane. The depth of his life held against mine. His purpose for me, was to alter the course of my life so significantly, time and space fell away. In so many ways he has saved me. Even though I know his life has many purposes, having nothing to do with mine, I feel abundantly blessed to have been chosen to shelter his discerning soul under my heart, as his mother. I know that even though he might not yet know it, God has great plans for him.
If I have one birthday wish for my son today, it’s that he will recognize the epiphanies as they occur within his own life. May he recognize the gifts he will be given, that can alter the course of his own story. In doing so, my hope is he will notice the blank spaces between the pages of his book waiting to be filled. May he fill these empty spaces, with pages and pages of blessings, derived from the gifts of his own epiphanies.