One of my favorite questions to answer is, “What’s your earliest memory?”
I remember being born.
You can present me with as much psychological and neurological evidence as you want to try to prove me wrong, that there’s no way I remember that, but I do. It’s the most vivid memory I have.
I became aware of being in a warm, pink place, and I felt safe. Suddenly I was terrified and being taken somewhere cold, and I remember struggling to hang on and stay where I was. I didn’t think in words, but in feelings. I got the impression from somewhere outside of my consciousness that this was what was supposed to happen, and perhaps an inkling of an attempt at comforting me, but my terror superseded anything else I perceived. And then everything went dark.
What I don’t remember is anything that happened before I was born.
I didn’t put the pieces together and realize this was a birth memory until high school. What little visual memory I have of this makes me believe my feet were coming out before my head. I have been told I was born breech, I may have had the cord wrapped around my neck, I was blue, and I wasn’t breathing.
I read an article from a psychology magazineover the weekend that talked about awakening experiences. Moments when things just click – you suddenly realize you are a part of something so very much larger than yourself. You have an idea of how big the world really is, how small you are, and that just kind of puts God in perspective compared to the little personal world we live in in our minds. You realize just how huge and glorious and awesome He is.
There’s a right-of-way for a pipeline a short walk away from my house. There are tall banks of trees on each side of the line, and you can see all the way down it until it curves, or until the curvature of the Earth affects what you can see. The wind whips through there a little quicker than it does in the trees and blows the tall grass around. You can almost tell how high the clouds are in the sky from that perspective, and it’s mind-blowing to walk out that way in the morning when the sky is a crystal clear shade of blue.
Then you realize there is a place so awesome and amazing it defies description somewhere beyond those clouds. And beyond the stars at night.
And you are a part of eternity.
I really like the idea that children live in a state of constant wakefulness – it totally jives with everything we know about how children learn. I can’t really account for the lack of memories we make during our childhood, but everything we experience is so vivid, so alive, so in the moment. If there is one thing childhood by nature is not, it is academic. We do not learn about our world and those around us through studying or being taught, but through experiencing, living in the present moment. Somewhere in junior high we lose that feeling, relationships and due dates take over, and the rest of our life is spent busy planning for the future. We worry entirely too much.
We trust our Father entirely too little.
Since Saturday, I’ve been so awake to this world around me and the one I’m connected to in heaven. I thought I was just so keyed up from vigil that I’ve been having a hard time sleeping, but tonight I came to understand that it is not the fact that I’m now Catholic that’s keeping me awake, but how awake I am. To everything, everywhere, all the time. I feel like a small child tottering between that constant wakefulness and the mental preoccupation I’m so used to. Between experiencing and remembering everything. Between living and studying and analyzing life as it happens around me.
I am torn between two worlds.
I remember my baptism very vividly, even now, two days later. I remember my confirmation. I remember my first communion. I remember that whole evening after I was baptized. I was not scared after the water touched me.
I came awake.
Christ is risen from the dead, we are one with him again,
Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave.
I was born into the kingdom that night.
I know which world I want to live in.