I remember when both my babies drew their first breath, life sprawling out, all infant flailing limbs, tiny lungs burning with the filling, tiny arms reaching wildly to be held, to be connected, to be close. I remember it all through a tired haze of exhilaration and joy knit with labouring pain.
Birth. It’s a messy business. The humiliation of it all, the excruciating pain, the lack of control. But then arrived that moment. After the pain. The moment this tiny person was bundled into my arms. My arms cradling, holding them close, their heartbeat slowing, regulated by mine, their skin so soft, warmed against mine, their breath calming with every rise and fall of my lungs. And in that moment. I knew it. I felt it. Eternity so close.
And I will remember that moment forever. It was the beginning of something that will last. Forever.
Birth is a messy business. And a mystery. And somehow in the tension between the two there is a beauty that finds no words. Only salty tears.
God was there, when the first humans drew their first breath. Life sprawling out, lungs burning with the filling. And He was close. As close as breath. Softly silently exhaling life into brand new lungs. God breathed into us His own breath, His own life and we lived. And it was a giving. A giving of Himself, part of Himself that became the whole of us.
In breathing life into our lungs He breathed His life into our souls, His mystery into our existence and beauty, so much beauty. And we knew it. We felt it. Eternity so close.
Birth. It’s a messy business. And a mystery. And somehow in the tension between the two there is a beauty that finds no words. Only salty tears.
But tears of Joy in that first garden soon became tears of betrayal, a tearing apart of all that connected us to eternity, to our very Breath. Darkness swirled mixing with light and humanity’s hearts slowed. Eternity felt numbingly distant. Far away. Heard only through the muffling echo of the closing dark. Though YHWH kept close, reaching out to human beings, our human hearts beat numb, and tears became familiar in an ever darkening world.
Tears were familiar for these people. But not tears of mystery and joy. Theirs were salty tears corroding hope, wiped across red cheeks raw with the constant grief of a life lived under centuries of oppression. These people conceived by God’s love and Abraham’s obedience had been gestating for centuries in the belly of slavery, struggling in the dark womb of Egyptian power.
But then this day arrived like a dawn. Like a thin rim of gold against the heavy quilt of night. A new day, the first day of Israel’s brand new month, brand new year. In the darkest watch of the night God finally ended the slavery of His people, by taking back the breath of Egypt’s first born sons.
Even before the spreading rays of dawn touched the people of Israel’s skin they were woken by their call to freedom. And Israel walked through the doorway marked by the blood of a lamb into their first day of freedom and the first day of their brand new year. A birth day.
As Egypt’s firstborn loose their breath, the infant nation Israel takes its first; life sprawling, new lungs burning with the filling, flailing to escape, to be safe. To be free.
“During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.’” Exodus 12:32
Pharaoh finally pries his fingers off Israel’s newborn throat. But after the smarting grief and numbing emotion of loss lifted, Pharaoh’s heart began to shift. All it felt like was defeat. Losing a battle. Losing a workforce. Losing control. Losing face. Losing. Everything.
Pride has always been a sore loser and vengeance rides on the coat tails of defeat.
“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.” Exodus 14:5-7