In The Womb
I’ve been wanting to write about this thought for several months now, but work has just had me so busy that I haven’t felt I could do justice to it with the time that I had. I’m feeling pretty good about the chances for success tonight though, so let’s do this.
First of all, if you don’t know me, or haven’t heard the great news, I’m expecting. Well, not me specifically, it’s actually my wife who’s expecting, but we’re a team so that makes it okay for me to say too right?! Regardless, and needless to say, all of this pregnancy talk and preparation has given me ample opportunity to think about this slowly forming child inside Wendy’s belly. Oh, and did I mention it’s about 2 1/2 months away… AAAHHHHH!!!! (sorry, occasionally I panic and run through the house like a chimpanzee on crack…) I’m glad you didn’t see that. ;)
Where was I? Ahhh yes, baby on the way in Wendy’s belly. (deep breath) Some time back, I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be that little baby. It’s interesting that we can’t remember anything from the time that we spent inside of our mother’s womb and early childhood, even though our capacity for memory was already functioning even before birth. So I was trying to close my eyes and put myself in the baby’s position. I couldn’t quite walk a mile in it’s shoes yet, but maybe float for an hour from it’s perspective.
I hope that this is as cool for you as it was for me. I promise that if you can hang with me until the end, you’ll probably get a new perspective that you may have never had before.
The first thing that came to mind as I entered baby mode was, what am I thinking. That thought immediately had a head on collision with a brick wall in the form of problem number one. I have no language. Most of all the thoughts which we are able to process and deal with on a conscious level involve words. Even our feelings are associated with words. The last time you were really angry I’ll bet some words entered your mind that explained just how angry you were. (it’s okay, no need to go there right now – we all have those days…) The point however is that I have no vocabulary to describe anything that I experience. If Wendy were to bump my poor little head against the bathroom counter while she was brushing her shiny white teeth in the morning. I can’t say, “ouch” because I can’t talk, but more significantly, I can’t even think, “ouch” because I have no vocabulary whatsoever.
Once I was wading in the murky waters of making sense of consciousness without a language of any kind, I began to stumble over other obstacles that made it really difficult for my “post birth” mind to wrap around.
I’m a pretty visual person… (photographer by trade) and so the next place my mind went was to look around and see what it’s like inside of that belly. Get a good look at that umbilical cord sticking out of my belly. Find Wendy’s bladder and give it a good solid kick just for giggles. That’s when I got my second ‘Bop’ on the forehead. It’s dark in here. In fact, it’s always been dark. Not only do I not have a word for light, I have zero experience of light. I’ve never seen the sunlight. I’ve never seen a light bulb. I’ve never even seen a reflection of a light. I don’t even have a single point of reference to imagine what a light might be like. It is a completely and entirely foreign concept to me. As far as ‘baby me’ is concerned, light does not and has not ever existed. There is no such thing as eyesight. I have never perceived the world around me by looking at it.
A little bit of a bummer at this point, don’t ya think? No words, no eyesight… what’s next?
Well, after realizing that I am growing ever more limited in my perception of the world around me, I decide to think about what I am able to experience. Smell and taste… let’s not go there. I’m probably glad I don’t remember that. Let’s just say it isn’t just water floating around in there with me. So let’s go to touch. I can touch things, and I’m starting to get the hand of the fingers (even though I can’t call them fingers because I have never heard of or seen fingers – perhaps this is why we can’t remember anything) But I can touch, and my nerves are forming sufficiently that I can feel things. Specifically, I can feel water and soft wet flesh surrounding me. Guess what, that’s all. That’s all I feel. I’ve never felt anything dry. I’ve never touched cotton. I’ve never felt my dad’s whiskers on my cheek. I’ve never felt the prick of a needle. I’ve never felt the rough texture of concrete or the floppy ears of a dog. In fact, ( you guessed it ) I have no experience of any of these things. As far as I’m concerned, THEY DO NOT EXIST. My entire experience of life, from as far back as I can remember has been soft wet things. Nothing else has ever brushed up against my skin in even the briefest of moments.
We form our ideas and our thoughts based on our experiences. We perceive the world around us by the labels that we have learned. (words) We use words to describe the encounters of life. Bright, dark, soft, hard, loud, quiet… (did I mention that every sound is muffled like it’s under water)
Take just a moment and think about the amazing experience of birth from the babies perspective.
Suddenly, someone let all of the water out of the swimming pool. This is really uncomfortable all of a sudden. This is a completely new experience in life, and so I’m getting a little curious. Then mom starts having contractions. Wow, can we say pain. No one ever things of what it feels like to be the baby. (granted moms… I’d rather be the baby, but let’s be a little sympathetic to the little fella) Imagine feeling pain for the very first time. Never before has your head been squeezed into a cone shape because… well, you know. That can’t possibly be an enjoyable experience. Suddenly, you feel something touching you that you have nothing to compare it to. There’s no water, there’s air. Oh, and suddenly you’re breathing.
For the first time in your existence, air is entering your lungs. For the first time in your existence, you see light. Previously you’ve had no concept of either of these things, and within moments, you’re completely surrounded by them. Oh, and it’s a good thing delivery rooms are nice quiet places for a baby to get accustomed to life on the other side… NOT! (yeah, I just used that – Go 90’s!) As if breathing for the very first time, and realizing that I am able to see, which I have no point of reference for. As far as I know, maybe I’m losing my mind. Now I’m surrounded by the sound of a crying mother, an excited dad, and doctors and nurses. What would you do… scream maybe. Oh, suddenly you realize that not only are you hearing sounds for the first time, you’re making sounds. Next you’re stretched out, and laid on a table. Let’s not overlook the fact that you’re stretched out. Previously, there was nothing beyond the small confines of mama’s baby factory. I had never experienced it or perceived it in any fashion, so the world was only as big as that tiny little belly. (tiny – hehe)
I don’t think we can imagine how overwhelming this experience probably was for us. Everything that ‘baby me’ knew about the limits of life were completely shattered in an instant. In one brief moment, I was introduced to a realm of existence that I never before even fathomed in my wildest imagination. Maybe there are lots of good reasons why we don’t remember this whole childbirth thing…
As if that wasn’t interesting enough though, here’s the thought that really got me excited.
I once heard the account of a Godly woman who was living her final moments here on earth. Her family was gathered around, and she was at peace. Before she passed, she opened her eyes and seemed to look beyond the walls of the small room in the hospital. The words she spoke in that last final moment have been a source of great curiosity and even joy for me since the day that I heard the account. She said with eyes full of amazement, “I’ve never seen colors like that before.”
These words came to me as I was thinking about this baby experience. There are many times in the Bible when someone talks about heaven and they say things like, “There was a sea like crystal.” or maybe they try to describe something they say, and they’re forced to say that it was ‘like’ something. In other words, there was something on the other side that they didn’t have the vocabulary for. It was beyond their experience. I’ve often thought about what the colors may have looked like that this woman saw as perhaps she was catching her first glimpses of life on the other side of eternity.
Is it possible that our perceptions of existence, by comparison are as limited as the unborn child’s?
I highly recommend reading 1 Corinthians 15 if this has peeked your curiosity. Here’s a couple of verses from that chapter:
“Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.”
This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
Think about that tonight when you turn out the lights and close your eyes. :)
Be blessed friends.