Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One+One=Three? Something Happened!

Life is a mysterious and wonderful thing. On June 1, 1997, a baby was born. A baby boy. A child. A human person. We named him. John Paul Augustine Janaro.

John Paul Janaro, obviously not a newborn here, but still pretty new.
Everyone is always talking about relationships and feelings and compatibility and men and women and marriage and who should get married and who has rights to what, and on and on. We want to know how we can maximize the mutual satisfaction of this unique physical, emotional, interpersonal bond between two people who love each other so profoundly.

Marriage. We go into it crazy, thinking that nothing could be deeper than our love, and all we want to do is hold onto the deepness and make it even deeper. "Me and you. You and me...." So what happens?

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!!!
Oh, you mean "children"? People think, "Oh yes, we'll have children too. Of course." But here's the thing: we didn't "have a child" on June 1, 1997.

Saying that is just not enough. Life is mysterious. It wasn't just "a child." It was John Paul. It was him -- this person, unprecedented, unrepeatable, unimaginable, his own self, John Paul Janaro.

Nine months before that day, a universe was created. The Word spoke, and this person -- this "someone," unique, unfathomable, lovable, destined to know and love and exist even after all the stars and galaxies have burned themselves out, to live forever -- this person was created. One day there was me and Eileen and our love for each other, and the next day there was this person.

And then, on June 1, after making himself known in many ways as he grew under the heart of his mother, he was born. He came forth into the light and breathed the air and screamed his head off.

It's a moment when you realize that this "love" thing is a total revolution. My gosh. You make choices. You get swept up in emotions. You love each other and you open your hearts, but you don't "make" anything. Something happens: you don't deserve it, you can't earn it, and when this someone is given to you, it becomes clear that you have been given to him.


Yes, it's "cute"! It's also a friggin' MIRACLE!
Birth is a milestone. It's not the beginning, and it's not the end, but it's a milestone in which a human person says, "Here I am!" Soon it becomes virtually impossible to imagine a universe in which this person did not exist.

Love seems to overthrow mathematics. Mathematics says 1+1=2. Love says 1+1=3. (I'm probably plagiarizing G. K. Chesterton here. Surely he said this somewhere, but I've seen the truth of it for myself. And he would agree that my words, therefore, are not a quotation but a happy coincidence. It 's not about his or my silly writings, but about the fact that life is amazing.)

Love says 1+1=3. Eileen+John=Eileen, John, & John Paul. And Agnese, Lucia, Teresa, Josefina, and the love that continues to shine in the world through them. Are numbers really good enough for what we're talking about here? Sure, you can count children, but real love keeps going on. It keeps being a surprise and a gift that we can't measure.

We don't deserve any "number" of children; each one of them is a gift to us, and we in turn become gift to each one of them. When John Paul became my son, I also changed: I became his father. And this happens again, in a unique way, with each child. We grow in the giving of love, we become gifts of love when we receive the gift of a person.

Not everyone has children. But the miracle of children and families is a sign that the nature of love is the gift. We become ourselves by giving ourselves. This call to love is vivid in the family, because there is this other person who calls me "Daddy" -- I didn't make him, he is a mystery, but he claims me as his father and I want to belong to him in this way; I want to be this gift to him. So it is with each and every child. A family is persons given to one another in this very particular way, through the self-giving love of a man and a woman who commit to each other so radically that they open up a space where new human persons might be created (not on demand, not "made to order," but as the free gift of the One who has fashioned and designed marital love with wisdom and goodness). This mysterious Freedom does not always give children to spouses, but the Gift is always being poured out in ways that are beyond them, their own ideas, and their plans. Spouses who love each other truly open a place, and we must believe that in each gift of spousal love "something happens" that is more that their love, and that makes their love grow.

Families are the sign that this Love is being poured out, everywhere. They are called to manifest in a particular way that we are all gifts to one another. The family is a place where I learn that every human person can say to me, "You are my brother." We are all given to one another in circumstances that we do not control -- circumstances that call upon us to give ourselves in specific ways, with works of love that always have mysterious fruit.

Not everyone has children. But children are a sign for all of us that if we open up our love it will be shaped into an unfathomable gift that is always beyond our calculation. Whatever our circumstances may be, if we truly give ourselves in love, even the most simple gesture is carried in the hands of the One who can do all things, and who always does what is good, who always brings forth beauty, who brings everything to fulfillment.

This life we live is a mysterious and wonderful and strange thing. Sometimes we don't understand it at all. Sometimes it seems unbearable, and we suffer. On the other side of suffering, however, we see (or we will see) that through it all we have been loved.

Our son John Paul has grown in ways we can see and measure. My gosh, he has grown! But the deeper things are beyond our measure. What we see is something that prompts us to entrust ourselves to the mystery that we are all loved, and to move forward in the desire to see the face of the One who loves us.

Wishing you many more Happy Birthdays, John Paul. Thank God for you!

So what grade should I give this paper?

Baseball at age seven.
And then age 12.
And today, at 17 and growing UP.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Beautiful. Happy birthday to John Paul!

John Janaro said...

Thanks, Laura.