Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head for no apparent reason? Songs get stuck in my head usually after I have heard them on the radio, in a movie, or background noise somewhere. However, lately, I have been thinking about a Christmas song, called Mary Did You Know. In this song, the song ponders if Mary the mother of Jesus could comprehend or know what her child would do in his lifetime. The song speaks about various aspects of Jesus’ life as accounted in the Bible.
This song has repeated popped in my head, even though it has been months since I heard it. My suspicion is that having a baby has created a link subconsciously to this song. As a new father, I cannot help but gaze into my son’s eyes and wonder what he will see in his lifetime, who he will become, and how he will leave his mark on the world. Naturally, I want him to discover who he is and find ways to support him, encourage him, and open his eyes to the possibilities.
I find myself wondering how I should equip and transform myself to be able to best guide him. I recognize that I am a product of my parents, upbringing and beliefs, relationships, education, and experiences. While it is impossible to transfer my lifetime of experiences and knowledge, the question now becomes what do I instill in him to give him a good foundation and approach to humanity and creation, the resiliency to adapt and address change and adversity, the lens for compassion and love, and the hunger and passion to continually seek out and discover the unknown.
I do not want him to simply exist and go with the flow or be a reflection of me (though I hope he loves elves, dragons, and science fiction). My hopes and prayers for him is that he learns what it means to be human and connect to the world around him on a deep, personal level. I hope that he has a passion and fire to stand up against injustice, yet humble enough to listen to others stories and truths so that he can appreciate and affirm their unique existence.
The challenge for my family is that there are so many choices and distractions. There will be opportunities that have not come into existence yet in which we will have to decide the value of that activity. While he is still small, I know that he will grow up fast. I know that developmentally there are better times to introduce him to ideas and concepts that I place value on. I know I want him to experience different cultures abroad and learn a couple languages. I want him to have camp experience to learn about faith and spirituality, connect a diversity of people, and explore what it means to be part of creation and the world. I also want him to develop the framework to be a lifelong learner and seeker of the deep and profound so that he can help others find their meaning and purpose in life. While there are a multitude of other important goals for child rearing, I do not want to succumb to the frivolities of the world and risk him not being aware of how easily cultural systems can distract us and pull us from what we hold dear.
I don’t know what Mary knew when she gazed upon her son. I can only be diligent in finding ways to help my son become the person he feels called to be. While I am new to these parental conversations, I hope that these are common conversations in the church and in our spiritual communities. I hope that we are always reaching and striving on discovering new ways to engage the Divine so that we can better bring and reflect the light into the world.