God is present in every new life

Where do we come from?

There was a message on my voice mail from a proud grandfather: “Ella Rose has joined us. She was 7 pounds and 1 ounce. She was born at 12:44 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

What intrigued me about that message was the sentence: “Ella Rose has joined us.” Where was she before she joined us?

I’m reminded of the old story of the little boy asking his father where he came from. The father went through a lengthy presentation about the ‘birds and the bees’. When the father finished, the little boy replied: “Oh, I know about all that Dad. But where do I come from? Garrett says that he came from Baltimore!”

Yes, we know where we come from physically. The psalms have that wonderful description of God “knitting us in our mother’s womb.” The Spirit of God assembles us piece by delicate piece within our mothers.

But where are we before that? Does God create our soul at the same time God creates our body? Or does our soul or spirit exist with God before our physical parts are assembled?

Some people believe that we exist in spirit before our physical birth and actually choose our parents!

I recall a story of one parent who believed that. One day his adolescent daughter was having a battle with him. The father said: “Why are you angry at your mother and me? You picked us!”

The girl, dumbfounded, replied: “You mean that out of all the billions of people in the world, I chose you and Mom?”

The father replied: “Yes!”

Silenced for but a moment, the teenager replied: “I must have been in a big hurry to get here!”

If Ella Rose got to make such a choice, she surely couldn’t have made a better choice – wonderful parents, two sets of wonderful grandparents, even some great grandparents, plus an extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins. If you wanted a “soft landing” for birth, this would be a place made of love.

But where do we come from? Is there a waiting room in eternity for those about to be born on earth? Obviously there is mystery that we can all have different perspectives about. But the ultimate answer seems clear: we come from God!

I’m reminded of another true story of a couple bringing a new baby home from the hospital. There was also a big brother awaiting the arrival of the new baby sister. Repeatedly, the parents and grandparents had told him that the new baby had just come from God.

When the baby arrived, the little boy kept asking his parents if he could be alone with the new baby. At first, the parents were a bit perplexed. They weren’t sure if there might not be some sibling rivalry going on. They feared that the child might want to send his sister back!

Finally, the parents said to him: “Okay, you can have two minutes alone with the new baby.” Curious as to what would happen, the parents watched closely from the doorway. The little boy approached the new baby and said: “Tell me what God looks like. I’m starting to forget!”

The little boy didn’t have to speculate about all the mysteries of life. He knew the baby came from God. That’s all that we really need to know as well. As someone has wisely said: “Every new baby is a sign that God has not given up on the world.”

Two thousand years ago a humble couple, also part of an extended family, had a baby in the humble town of Bethlehem. The powers of the world took little notice of the baby. But that child would change the world. God keeps coming back in every new baby if only we have eyes to see.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.