After two blissful weeks of uninterrupted sleep, Michael started waking to nurse again. I took it philosophically, because I’d been expecting it–I’ve said often enough that sleeping through the night is a myth–and these days he mixes it up; a night or two on, a night or two off.
This was an “on” night, and his roommate (Julianna) pulled a drama number at 4:30 a.m. and woke him up, so it was, in fact, a double-nursing night…something I don’t take so philosophically. I sat in my nursing chair while he wiggled and pushed his legs against the spindles, mostly playing around while my temper shortened with the dwindling minutes till morning. He needs his nails clipped…badly. And he likes to grab things these days. Sometimes he gets my shirt, but more often he goes for skin, and pulls the breast right out of his mouth. Repeatedly. After he’s torn the skin to shreds, of course.
So as often as he’ll consent, I grab his hand and let him hold my thumb. And as I sat there in the murky quiet of early morning, I suddenly saw the scene from his point of view. I saw the absolute trust, the craving for closeness with something Bigger Than Me. So much bigger, in fact, that his entire hand will wrap around its thumb. So big that it can protect him from the terrorizing of older siblings, and the specter of loneliness. So big that it fills up most of his world.
It occurred to me then that this is the source of faith, the first way in which our longing for God manifests itself. What do we adults have that can compare to that experience of infancy? We long for the security being cared for, too, and we long for Someone so big that we can rest upon that person. But it isn’t the same, because the physical Being is missing. We can’t snuggle up to God and wrap ourselves around a divine hand, knowing because of what we can see and touch that we’re safe. As adults, we have to reach into our souls and our intellects, to see God present in the beauty and power of nature and in the presence of community and supernatural Presence at church. In our “show-me” world, those connections are held suspect, even by those of us who believe them sincerely. We’d like more, and the frustration of knowing we can’t have it leads everyone to question at some point, and many to turn their backs.
It’s good that we grow and become parents ourselves, that we can see these moments in a new way and recognize the truths in them, truths we might otherwise lose touch with.