Sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to be here.
Not like I wish I’d never been born, though I, like everyone ever in the history of humanity, have struggled with this feeling. More like I was never supposed to be born at all. As in, as me.
You see, my mother had a miscarriage between my older brother and me. That miscarriage had the same due date that I did. It makes me wonder at times whether that child was supposed to be here.
My mother, of course, has a different take. She likes to say that I “just wasn’t ready yet” (mothers are great like that, aren’t they?) This calls into question what we are before we are born, if anything. A life is literally something created out of nothing (okay, I know sperm and eggs aren’t “nothing,” but where did the original come from? Quite honestly, the “primordial goo struck by lightning” explanation isn’t very satisfactory to me.).
If the soul is immortal, is every human soul just somewhere waiting until the time is right? Or are we all pieces of God, who breaths the Holy Spirit onto the zygote at the moment of conception?
These are deep philosophical and theological questions I’m not going to get into now. I am more interested in the first part of this post, the idea of birth and rebirth. Reinvention.
You see, Christmas is upon us. And like most major Christian holy days, it is about birth and rebirth. A new awakening. A second chance. If Easter is about the triumph over death, Christian is the hope that this promise will be fulfilled being born into the world.
A new beginning. A second chance. A new hope.
Please . . . no Star Wars jokes.
Christmas gets me in the soft spot because it makes gloomy feelings seem lighter. The cloud of darkness lifts for just long enough for me to make some new plans.
This is in large part because Christmas makes me think of my own mother and the love she has for me, and how, through his miraculous conception, life, death, and resurrection, Mary had all the same hopes and fears and anxieties about her son.
In a time when the very idea of motherhood is mocked and belittled, or even regretted, Christmas is really a celebration of this institution, isnt it? A nice, sweet, sacred, unironic and sincere celebration.
Add this to the New Year–“New Year, New You”–and epiphany–Christ’s baptism by the hand of the forerunner John–and the rebirth trifecta is complete.
No matter what, life offers so many opportunities for reinvention and recalibration. Like one of my favorite musicians David Bowie, one can try on different personae and different identities, either changing as needed or finding one that generally fits.
The important thing is that there is the chance, both as a function of living in the greatest country ever conceived by human beings, and by the grace of a kind and loving God.
You can get reborn in a pretty miraculous way, sans a conventional conception.
Physically, spiritually, emotionally, the opportunity is real.
Of course, your mileage may vary on that last bit, depending on faith, if any. But regardless, Christians like to share and you can partake in the miracles of the holiday season regardless.
Take a second look at the Christmas season.
What are you doing here? What is your mission? These are good things to think about all of the time, but the end of a year–a relatively arbitrary line of demarcation, I know–is a pretty effective way to force the issue.
The Christmas sentiments of “peace on Earth, goodwill towards men” and gift-giving are beautiful and vital. But Christmas is also the opportunity to take stock of your life and yourself at the dawn of a brand new everything.
It’s not just a new year.
It’s not just a new you.
It’s a new world.