My oldest son and his wife just had their second child, a daughter Abigail Grace. Her older brother Ben Jr. is two and he seems mostly indifferent towards her, but is certainly aware that there has been a seismic shift in his universe, and at this point from his perspective, it may not be for the better. We all joke that he no longer is the center of the cosmos and will have to learn to adjust. Of course none of us who are adults have totally mastered that critical bit of insight. We are all for the most part woefully bound to the gravity of our own egos, viewing the world through the prescription of our own perspective. On our best days we know this to be true, so periodically we get in our space suits and venture out into new worlds. We strain to look at others from different vistas. We try on empathy and for a moment we can seem to know something of another's experience.
But one can only suspend gravity for brief jaunts. If you have experienced a great loss, you are probably able to be more sympathetic and helpful to someone who is freshly in the midst of grief. But you know better than to think you can feel their pain; there is nothing lonelier than grief. There is no greater experience of the uniqueness of our perspective and lone-ness, than continuing our lives accompanied by a huge empty space where once a beloved dwelt.
That is why love is a constant argument for the transcendent. Abigail's brother might not be so sure about her, but her parents and the rest of us are crazy about her. I do not even know her and I love her. She decided to baptize me the other night when I was changing her diaper and I didn't even care. I was angry about a situation and I tried to hold on to it as I was holding her, but it was as if I had to let go of one to have the other. I chose to keep Abigail....Grace.
Her parents' lives have been totally disrupted-body scarred, sleep deprived, finances depleted-and they love her. Gravity is suspended in the presence of Abbie -Grace. And the miracle is that they did not have to borrow love from another object in order to lavish it on little Abigail. They did not have to subtract a little love from Ben, some from each of their parents, and disown a brother or sister to have enough room in their hearts for Abigail. Love expands the heart. It is not a quantity which by nature is bound by psychological or material constructs (Though it can be diluted and distorted by these limitations.) Maybe the seemingly inexhaustible well that is love is what is meant by "God is love" I John 4:8.
I think love is one of those phenomena that points to the existence of God. I get that a lot the care for our children and loved ones could be explained as something that has evolved out of an instinct for survival of the species. I do think that is part of humanity's back story. But even most Darwinians would admit they feel something of the mystery of love while watching their children being born. The Feast of Epiphany celebrates the mystery of God becoming human-the marriage of the infinite with the finite; the Creator become creature. I can give you multiple lectures on how Christians for centuries argued about how that could be, but I have no idea how in the world it worked. Yet I see finite, limited, gravity bound people trying to love everyday. I know what it feels to be the recipient of such love. I do not experience human failure as disillusioning; I have come to expect it. But what is amazing is often we rise above our brokenness and really do love. It is probably one of the chief reasons I believe.
"The children in each different place Will see the baby Jesus' face Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace, And filled with holy light. O lay aside each earthly thing And with thy heart as offering, Come worship now the infant King. 'Tis love that's born tonight! "