For whatever reason, the baby showers I am invited to, almost always take place in the summer. Some years, there has been a veritable rash of summer baby showers. I used the word "rash" carefully, because for me, I enjoy all those little baby shower games about as much as I probably enjoyed diaper rash as an infant. Being the world's worst party...er..."pooper", I am the first to willingly give up my diaper pin, felicitously pinned to my best silk blouse by the mistress of ceremonies. Before I even find my seat, I look around the room and smilingly growl (yes, that is possible to do), "Babybabybaby. Go on, and take the stupid safety pin!"
Then, there usually follows an air of shock and awe, as very few can fathom not wanting desperately to win baby shower games.
There is the inevitable "guess which jar of baby food is what" game. I defy you to tell me the difference between an unlabeled jar of Gerber squash, and an unlabeled jar of peaches. Then, to top it all off, the Olympic Sport of all baby showers: the "guess the circumference of the pregnant mother's belly" games. I grudgingly pull at least three yards from the spool of ribbon, or - for the love of Pete - toilet paper. Happily, the time for opening gifts finally comes.
But somewhere between the diaper pin snatching and the unwrapping of that final gift, I notice "the look" in the expectant mother's eyes. I'd know that look anywhere. It is something akin to mist and awe and fear and an awakening love too powerful to hide. Far greater than a hormone (oh, that some of the extreme emotions relative to womanhood were not obtusely categorized as "hormonal"!) there broods in those eyes a glow of primal celebration. "Unto us a child is born" are words that thrill more than just a Bible reader, they burn in the heart of any woman who has yearned for a baby of her own. When the day arrives that she finds herself opening those gifts of tiny shoes and pajamas and fluffy blankets, something happens. Her heart lurches forward and skips a beat. Her hands may even tremble as they attempt to untie a frosty pink or blue ribbon. She gets "the look" in her eyes - the look that silently betrays her inner longing to hold this baby for the very first time.
Forget the games. They give me hives. I attend baby showers to see that look. I attend baby showers because babies are unspeakable miracles. I show up because babies become the children who dance with God.
Yes, dancing with God is inevitable for children. There will always come an afternoon or morning or night when the Spirit of the Living God "comes out to play", so to speak. That child will experience the presence of God, usually in the absence of the parents - alone on a bed, or outside looking at a flower. It is a very personal thing, quite experiential, and very different from mommy or daddy telling a child that God does, indeed, exist. While almost no one remembers that first awakening awareness of God, we each one were visited by Him in our childhood. We each one danced with God. I stole that phrase from Walter Wangerin, who poingantly describes this supernatural inevitability:
"Who can say when, in any child, the dance with God begins? No one. Not even the child can later look back and remember the beginning of it, because it is as natural an experience (as early and as universally received) as the child's relationship with the sun or with his bedroom. And the beginning, specifically, cannot be remembered because in the beginning there are no words for it. The language to name, contain, and to explain the experience comes afterward. The dance, then, the relationship with God, "faithing", begins in a mist.
..."Faithing", we may say, is not unique to a few people: it is at least initiated in all. It is a universal human experience. We all have danced one round with God. But we danced it in the mists."
Now that I think about it, that is the very mist I see in the eyes of the pregnant mother. How can it be anything but, with the very Spirit of God brooding over her belly? At some point, I believe the point of conception, that baby became a living soul, and the mother manifests the mists of "faithing" in her eyes as she awaits the arrival of this child, of whom the poets said, "Is fresh from God...from beholding the face of God." Pregnancy is when a woman gets to dance another round with her Creator. He takes her in His arms, gently leading her, and together they step and twirl, dip and sway within the mists of His hovering, life giving Spirit, and the mists of emotions too eternal to be put into mere words.
I believe He returns now and again to our lives, when we know Him, to dance. But never will the dance be quite so gentle and so miraculous as when He dances with a pregnant mother, and then a short time later, turns to dance with her child. This is why I try to never miss a baby shower.
But you can still have my diaper pin. I'm just not competitive when it comes to baby shower games.
The dreaded "Diaper the Grown Woman" competition...
"Expectant Sssssssuper Mommy!"
"It's all for Hannah Grace. We didn't eat a bite. Ahem."
....lotta, lotta estrogen in that room!
The mommy (and wife-to-our-youth-pastor) Kelly Bailey, and I. Hannah Grace is yet "in the oven".