Holding On To Humanity

Years ago when I announced to my parents that I was pregnant (with our fourth child), my dad commented that he thought I was a little nuts to bring another child into this world. I don’t remember his exact words — and I know he never meant to wound, although he did. His comment stayed with me.

I’ve come to understand Dad’s remark had less to do with a dire view of the world and more about his concern for me, his eldest daughter, and my health. Bearing four babies in less than eight years, etc. — who did I think I was? Wonder Woman? (This was before Michelle Duggar raised the motherhood bar into the stratosphere!)

At the time, though, I remember thinking:  here is a man whose first glimpse of Europe came when he was dumped (with rifle and a weighty backpack full of gear) from an amphibious landing craft into the seas (though he had never learned how to swim!) off Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. A 21 year old infantry soldier, his job with the 359th regiment meant regular trips to the front lines driving delivery trucks filled with much-needed supplies.

But when the war was over, this man came home, established a normal life and family, fathering six children (five of whom reached adulthood). The world into which he ushered all six of his offspring wasn’t much different than ours:  there were wars, sin, despicable people doing heinous acts, and yet the gift of children offered demonstrable proof of the Hope he and my mother shared.

Two unrelated items brought my dad’s comment to mind this past week and offered an occasion for reflection. The first — a celebratory event — was my younger daughter’s delivery of her third child, a daughter. We all rejoice in the arrival of VHP and anticipate a delightful future for this much-loved little one.

The second item — a snippet of time, actually — during which I happened to catch some scenes from the Daniel Craig/Liev Schreiber movie Defiance, (a film I heartily recommend.) It’s the story of a rag-tag group of Jewish non-combatants hunkered down in the forests of eastern Europe during World War II, hoping to save themselves from the death-camps.

As their numbers increase, unofficial leader Daniel Craig (Tuvia) orders:  “Pregnancies are forbidden. We cannot accommodate an infant’s needs.” In this epic struggle for survival, his diktat seems reasonable enough; Nazi soldiers scouting the forests might be alerted by an infant’s cries.

Then the unthinkable occurs:  one of the young women (raped by a Nazi prior to arriving at the forest refugee camp) delivers a baby. Tuvia is incensed by the sudden sound of this newborn’s cry. Rather than risk the safety of all, he seems bent on dispatching both mother and infant from the camp.

That’s when Lilka tells him:  “You tell us to hold on to our humanity … not to become like animals. What better way than by bringing a life into this world of suffering and death. It’s our only hope.”

Solomon reminds us “There is an appointed time for everything … a time for every event under heaven.” Welcoming a new life into this world is always a time to rejoice, and yes, we are rejoicing!

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