Spirit to spirit: the wisdom of newborn babies
I discovered the truth of this quote by C. S. Lewis as a mother and grandmother when I first looked into my newborn’s eyes. What I found most startling about infants is how aware they are, the obvious intelligence in their eyes.
The baby in the womb and when he is first born is a soul with complex thoughts and deep feelings. All children are children, whether born or not. The Hebrew Scripture regularly refers to individuals existing in the womb (“I knew you in the womb,” Jeremiah 1:5, Job 10:8-12, Isiah 44:2).
You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb. For so many marvels I thank you; a wonder am I, and all your works are wonders. You knew me through and through, my being held no secrets from you, when I was being formed in secret, textured in the depths of the earth. Your eyes could see my embryo. In your book all my days were inscribed, every one that was fixed is there. (Psalm 13:13-16)
When I first met one of my granddaughters, she was six hours old. This little person, called Lila, had a look of utter surprise as she surveyed the world. Her eyes almost bulged out and her eyebrows were raised in a look of surprise. After I spoke and greeted Lila, she turned at the sound of my voice and looked at me for the first time, her eyes widened even more in recognition. It was if she thought, “Ah, so this is what you look like. I remember your voice.”
She remembered the sound of my voice from her time in the womb, and at 6 hours old, finally, put a face to that voice. This interaction brought to mind the reaction of John the Baptist, leaping with joy in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, as she greeted a pregnant Mary.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!… (Luke 1:41-42)
It was the unborn baby who recognized Jesus initially, not his mother Elizabeth! Biblical women understood more about their babies’ developing spirits than most modern women. They spent much of their pregnancies saturating their unborn infants with the Spirit as they read and sang the Psalms.
This Newborn Was an Old Soul
Lila has been thrust out from the safety and security of the womb into a huge, cold world, with bright lights and loud, abrasive sounds. She is wise, an old soul who connects with my spirit when we look at each other. It would be an unnerving experience if it were not so profoundly sweet. The words of C.S. Lewis reverberate within me: “You do not have a soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body.”
Although Lila’s body is helpless and fragile, she is a person, albeit a little person, with a definite personality. The looks we exchange with each other are not fleeting but penetrating, because our eyes truly are the windows of our souls. Without words, we recognize each other as sisters, fellow travellers who have come from God, who are made from the same stuff. This soul knows I see past appearances, right to her true self, just as she sees past my appearance right to my core, my inner spirit.
If I was surprised by the intelligence and ability to connect soul to soul with my babies, Mary must have been even more startled when she first looked the infant Jesus in the eye.
So I salute this brave person, this newborn human being. In fact, I salute all infants for bravery in the face of powerlessness, as they begin their life on earth. I especially thank Christ for assuming the form of an infant:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Phillipians 2: 6,7 )
Have you ever experienced a spiritual relationship, spirit to spirit, with a baby?
“You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis