Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Precious, Life

Yesterday I helped to bring a new life into the world. It was only a calf, thousands of which are born every day under similar circumstances. Some would consider it just part of the job, not much different than changing the oil in a vehicle or tilling the garden... but not me. No matter how many times I see a living creature take its first breath (or, conversely, fight for its last), I will never get over the feeling of what a miracle life is, be it human or otherwise.

As a woman who has given birth to my own babies, tending the cow as she was in labor and then focused on her new baby was instinctual. The look in her eye as she pushed... one of experience, yet tinged with pain and desperation, was familiar. The calf was a large one and did not come as easily as some, so I knelt next to the cow, tore the membrane away from the little black nose, grasped the legs and eased the baby into the world.

The metamorphosis which takes place in the next few moments never fails to bring tears to my eyes. To watch a wet, slimy creature slide into the world, so seemingly helpless and vulnerable, struggle to breathe, then rise, then nurse... and within hours, transform into a dry, furry, bright-eyed and hungry little animal with an attitude and a personality... it is nothing short of bearing witness to a miracle.

I've often wondered how anyone could witness birth and fail to believe in a Creator. Or death, for that matter. If we are but biological organisms, taking up space on the planet and with no purpose beyond reproducing, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and food for fertilizer, there would be no need for emotion. No need for love or anger, fear or happiness; none of that would matter. We would not feel such joy at the creation of life and such profound sadness at its loss.

I believe in God the Creator and always have... but to be present as His Spirit breathes life into a creature, certainly reinforces that belief. I understand biology, but will never understand the miracle and mystery behind it. I will never understand why some creatures live, and others are conceived but never get to draw a breath. I don't need to understand; it's part of the mystery. Just because I do not understand it, however, does not mean I rejoice in life any less. On the contrary, the mystery of life and the loss of death, make life all the more precious.

Every breath, every moment, every creature... precious.

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