Sunday, October 7, 2007

Our 2-inch Wonder: Love and Fear

Friends and family,

What a thrill to share news of new life from Colombia! Jess and I are expecting a baby!

The first trimester has been a time of disbelief, awe, mystery, fear, wonder, and elation. The twelve week ultrasound we had this morning shows a healthy, tiny baby with a strong heartbeat due March 3. Two weeks ago we gasped and wiped away tears as we watched our little one doing high-impact womb-aerobics. Impossibly amazing. Those first images of arms and legs busily moving about are seared into my heart’s memory.

The first three months of the pregnancy have been relatively easy. Our rhythm of life is still fast-paced and sometimes, like today, fatigue catches up with me. But nausea has given way to an increased appetite and a thick waist, and, perhaps most significantly, I’ve moved from trepidation to excitement.

I’ve decided to share my personal struggle to come to terms with a paralyzing fear of losing this little sparkle growing inside me. Conceiving life in Colombia at this time is a powerful emotional and spiritual journey. But, lesson learned: it’s one to be shared.

With delighted joy,


* * * * * * *

July 5th journal entry

Spark of life, you entered from the undercurrent of love and longing, deeper than fear or confusion. You answered our call to the Deep. Our statement of faith, you declare that death will not have the last word. You are my defiance and hope.

Days before you came to be, our community suffered an attack that chilled me to the core—the Justapaz break-in of June 14th. It reflected intimate knowledge of our organizational workings. It ripped from our staff the ability to protect the subjects and collectors of the sacred stories shared with us in strictest confidence. It shredded our desperate desire to believe that doing nonpartisan truth-telling could continue unmolested, even as the world began to pay attention and ask, “What can we do?”

You first made your presence known to me during our meeting at the Vice President’s office. As we talked with high level government officials about the series of information robberies and their response, the director of the human rights program lit a cigarette beside me. A wave of nausea engulfed me and I felt the multiple positive pregnancy test results to be true.

As we responded to this crisis I have clung to the marvelous, mysterious knowledge you—a life inside me. In moments of weakness when dread and fear crept into the shadowy corners of my soul, you helped me chase them away and return to the steadfast hope necessary to carry-on. You are my Hebrews 11:1 baby.

* * * * *

In a striking personality reversal, Jess first wanted to share our news with family and friends. I, the extrovert and external processor, was guarded and reserved.

Nine weeks into the pregnany, and last night I realized with a sudden and emotional crash that I’ve been nursing a gnawing fear that this most intimate and precious symbol of life would not survive. My Hope could die and be flushed away in a torrent of blood, as so often happens in Colombia. If this little spark has been my faith that goodness cannot be extinguished by violent adversity, how could I cope with its loss? My fear of losing our Call to the Deep kept me turned inward with my secret.

She is a tangible, fierce life force.

She is a fragile mystery.

She is not mine and I am not in control.

I’ve long-accepted that I could be physically harmed or even lose my life in this line of service. Secure in my vocation and sense of call, I don’t live in fear. But this life growing inside of me is something new.

Nevertheless, in the past few weeks my body has increasingly exhibited signs that I’m not the only one inhabiting this vessel. During this time I’ve grow more familiar with the little spark as a Being and not just a symbol or concept. As I’ve grown to care for and love this tiny baby, the fear has subsided and quietly traveled from the center of my attention.

Even still, it wasn’t until I read one of the reflections from the Meditations for Expectant Mothers, a wonderfully, sometimes terribly, but always charmingly old-fashioned book that Mom gave me, that I realized what I’d been doing.

I’ve considered this little baby to bear my life-yearning and faith. That’s quite a burden for a bean-sized babe! “Love Casts Out Fear” is the title of the meditation. As I read it the tears began to brim in my eyes, and then I found myself sobbing.

July 9, journal entry

I journaled at the time, “An hour after reading the meditation I sit in the dark of night with my tears and hope. My thoughts are so simple I can hardly write them down,

Hold gently that which we love most.

Faith, hope and love.

I cannot clench these things in my fists, as if they were personal possessions to be hoarded in secret.

I can only live in them. I can make them our home with an open door. If they are to give life and flourish, I need to share them with my community.

How many times must Colombia teach me her lessons before I learn?

Janna, what might have been the outcome if members of the Justapaz staff had turned inward or fled after the attack? While fearful, we responded together and with an extended international network of churches and supporters.

Sharing in the hope and the vulnerability—this is the essence of being a human community living in determined faith. We hope together, or our dreams will whither in a clenched fist.

Maybe it’s just a change of hormones allowing this existential dilemma to find resolve. In any case, now I am ready to share our news—we’re expecting.”

* * * * * * * *

Aug 24 postscript note: Delivering our good news has been spectacularly fun!