Three days before Lent started Agnes Sophia Rose joined our family. That means that by Ash Wednesday we were all properly exhausted and the normal family routine was in tatters. I had thought that this year I would give Lent a miss, mostly because I had had so little time and energy to think about it properly. However, it slowly dawned on me that the reality of our new life, my tiredness and grumpiness and feeling completely out of control in every way--physically, emotionally, mentally--without any reserves at all, this was exactly the meaning of Lent.
If we are to identify with the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, then what better way than to take on the fullness of caring for and giving to a new person? All that Agnes requires, as well as the two other children I've been blessed to have, is the life, love and sustenance that Jesus died to give to us. Every last minute of sleep I've lost and pined for is the sleep He forsook in the garden while He prayed. Every cry I've soothed and not known how to soothe is the cries to Him of us in our sin. Anything I've ever given up is nothing compared to giving your whole life up to such a blessed and yet wholly demanding calling like a new child. And nothing at all compared to giving yourself up for humanity like Jesus.
I have had rare moments to myself, very few showers, only a handful of meals where I wasn't holding a baby or helping a child to eat, scant bursts of anything resembling exercise, late and interrupted nights and countless sentences left unfinished in the last seven weeks. But now as Agnes is growing, settling into a routine and becoming a person before my very eyes, I am so grateful for these weeks of learning to love her and to love giving to her in a way I didn't know before.
Today was a celebration for me of being resurrected from the darkest, loneliest and emptiest places of life. I've been there before--Adam had his heart operation just before Easter seven years ago, and it was on Good Friday that he was at his lowest place and we wondered if he would live at all. It was also that day that we found out he had Down Syndrome, which was placed in perspective alongside the prospect that our beloved son might not live. I know in my head that light comes out of the darkness, that Christ meets us where we are completely bottomed out. But this year was a chance for my heart and soul to learn the same and to see those early weeks of having a new baby not as torture but as the gift they are waiting to become.