All five of my children broke through the womb when the frost hit hard.
The first two at Thanksgiving and another on the fiftieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Two more came near winter’s end when everyone is longing for spring, but the snow keeps piling high.
My babies met winter on their first day out of doors. They were swaddled in fleece, the first barrier I put up against the cold. Five times I pinched a blanket and laid it above their noses in an effort to keep the wind chill from stealing their breath. Five times I turned from the front seat, unbuckling my seat belt to adjust a too-big knitted cap from sliding off to one side and down over one baby eye.
Birth is the first trauma.
It is a traumatic thing to be pushed out of the warmth of a liquid cocoon only to be mercilessly squeezed through a narrow passageway, the plates of our skull shifting to protect our brain while the rest of our curled up body straightens out for the first time.
We aren’t even breathing yet as we descend into who knows where, and when we do, getting air into our lungs for the first time isn’t always easy. Some of us open wide and gulp oxygen right away, but many of us are silent…until the umbilical cord gets taken from our necks. Some of us need help, a quick jarring to loosen the fluid in our lungs before we gasp…before we breathe.
Our mothers were never more closer to their own death than when they gave birth to us. It’s a wonder that any of them went through it more than once. Yet, most of them will tell you this sort of thing doesn’t matter one bit once their baby was placed in their arms.
All that squeezing and contracting.
All that pain and fear.
The trauma of birth is a fading mist when a mama meets her baby for the first time. Birth is the last bit of trauma any child should ever know.
But the world has fallen down.
She has broken herself and trauma is everywhere now.
Children who should be playing and laughing and dreaming are fighting and crying and nightmare-ing.
I know because I hold trauma in my hands every day.
I hold it until it goes limp in my arms. I quietly rock it back and forth, back and forth. I wipe its tears and I stroke its hair. I whisper that I care and that it’s going to be all right, even though I know for some, it won’t be.
Humans can’t fix this kind of trauma because no one can fix the human heart.
So many grown-up humans think they have the answer; the right social service, the tailor-made program, but not so grown up humans know they don’t. Because these little ones will tell you there is still no food in the cupboard, but there are needles…there are bottles. They will tell you there are backhands and ugly words and there are evictions and cardboard boxes.
And they will tell you so much more by not telling you anything at all.
My mother told me not to tell and you can’t make me tell you anything.
So they roar.
When I hear the roar of a child that is the roar of trauma, I feel something shatter. The world breaks apart just a little bit more. It doesn’t make sense, but in the middle of the roaring I come closer. As I do, I pray under my breath…O’ God, O’ God, O’ God…heal the despair, comfort the dismay. It’s hard to know when to move toward fear and loathing. It doesn’t make sense that holding tight to trauma can be a comfort in the end. When the roaring stops and the broken child is spent, there is rest.
It’s what I need to know this Christmas. That there is, and will be, rest.
God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay…
That not even the trauma or brokenness of a child can completely unravel me.
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day.
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray…
Do these children instinctively know somewhere deep inside of them that all has gone astray, so roar they must? Is not their roaring the proper response to trauma and all that has gone wrong with the blue planet?
These children roar the roar of injustice.
They push and shove against neglect.
They bite the pain of abuse.
Because no child, after leaving the safety of the womb, their lungs heaving for the first time, should ever have to know trauma again.
For to us a child is born…
The Ancient of Days has come.
The brilliance of God has squeezed through a birth canal, the plates in his skull shifted and his body unfurled until He too, opened His mouth and gulped air.
…to us a son is given…
A Son given to us by way of the thorn, the lash and finally the cross, the ultimate instrument of torture and trauma that heals all traumas, forever and ever.
From the place of the cross it is He, the Lion of Judah who gets the last roar.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.
Lion image courtesy of Basehead Art.com