When you read what I have to say, I want you to know that I do not intend to diminish the miracle that is a newborn child, or humanize the divinity of creating a new life. I wish only to address a certain comment that I have heard on multiple occasions, both from the church pulpit and in everyday conversation. It goes something like this:
Mother of newborn child: “You know what little Ashlynne did yesterday?”
Me: Nothing, because newborns are basically cute human slugs. “What’s that?”
Mother: “Well, I was making funeral potatoes for the potluck and looked over and there she was just staring at the portrait of Jesus we have on the wall.”
Me: “Isn’t that something.”
Mother muses fondly: “I just wonder if she still recognizes Him. I wonder how thin the veil is for her…”
Look, I hate to be the one to drop a turd into your jello mold, but I’ll just come out and say it. Just because your three week old baby seems to knowingly stare at a picture of Jesus, it does not mean that said baby is doing so because he or she “remembers Jesus”. I don’t understand why we feel the need to continually make this observation. For some reason, parents want to think that their child, being so recently removed from the presence of our Creator, still has some sort of lingering memory of the event, or that their eyes are somehow still attuned to the light of their sacred former existence.
You want to know why your baby stares at that picture of Jesus? Because it can’t move its head and it has 20/400 vision. I would hesitate to load meaning on any stares from someone who often goes so crosseyed that you lose track of their pupils. If my infant recognizes Jesus from before birth, then they must have a lot of ceiling fans up in heaven because she’ll stare at those all day.
Please also take into account that Del Parson’s or Greg Olsen’s artistic renditions of Jesus, however brilliant and inspiring the paintings may be, are not actually photographs of Jesus. So unless your baby is staring at every long haired bearded guy, your theory has a few holes in it.
“If I could only remember what she remembers,” I’ve overheard a parent longingly utter. I’m sure these parents would be devastated to learn their babies don’t remember anything, because babies are stupid. They have dumb little baby brains. You know those two second periods in peekaboo where you disappear behind the couch cushion? Your newborn doesn’t even realize that you still exist. That’s why they’re so ecstatic when you magically appear out of nowhere, because to them you are literally magically appearing out of nowhere. The veil could be as thin as the hair on my head, but without a firm grip on object permanence, your baby won’t remember anyone who walked out of the room seven seconds ago, let alone anyone they left behind all the way back in premortal life.
I love my babies. Taking part in the creation of a life and seeing that life come to this earth is truly miraculous. A gift from God. That’s divine enough without me bestowing otherworldly memory powers on my child. Your baby doesn’t recognize Jesus.
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