It’s easy to forget that life is a gift. I am reminded of this now while I’m carrying my fifth child. Many days I am nervous about my child, his health, his future life. Anxiety pairs up with a tense grip around what is mine. Both responsibility and desires for everything to turn out just right become preoccupying… Yet, we only have life on loan–our own life as well as the lives of those given to us. It’s not easy to accept but still necessary. We are not in control of our own life or others. Still, we are truly given the life of others as well as our own life. Particularly children are given to us as gifts. The same goes for our spouses; they also are gifts entrusted to us directly from God. The sacrament of marriage confirms both the gift of our spouse and the gifts of our children. So, how does one hand life back to God? It isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a throwing back of a gift in God’s face. Once He entrusts them to us, He obviously expects something of us, as caretakers of His gifts. In fact, it often strikes me with force that we are accountable even for the faults of our children, because by their lack of understanding and their inherent dependence on us their faults are not really theirs, but ours… Yet, the desire to acknowledge and always remember that our gifts are on loan is a desire for what is right, and it ennobles us because it gives praise where praise is due. It is just. It keeps the mind healthy and the heart at peace.
There is a little King to whom I like to entrust my life and every other gift I get from God, especially my children. He is the little King of the universe, of time and outside time, to whom everything belongs, to whom everything is due to return. The little Infant Jesus, particularly in His age of three, has the childlike lack of care of what belongs to Him, because he assumes (rightly) that everything does in fact belong to Him. Also, as a child, He forgets the difference between what belongs to Him and what belongs to His mother. Everything is shared between them. As mother I can be His (little) mother too, and share everything with Him in that trust and friendship that forgets the differences. It is not so hard to remember, in His presence, that He is in fact in charge. Living is a good game, shared between us. It’s a delight for us to share. Life, even in its hardest moments, its most frightening moments of life and death, becomes easier in His company. He comforts in the way a child comforts. Dwelling with Him, walking with Him, talking to Him, and begging Him for everything–both strength and wisdom, love and patience–is part of the intimate friendship He offers me: yet another of His gifts, and the best of all.