***This was originally published as the "Chaplain's Corner" in the Baptist Medical Center's employee newsletter "The Connection."
It’s hard to know if my inability to remember very much of my daughter’s first few months is because of sleep deprivation or other distractions. After all, I did start work here just two weeks after she was born. There were so many adjustments to be made and so much to learn, at work and at home. People always tell you that a new baby will change your life forever, but you kind of have to live through that to know what it means. I’m still finding out. Every day my daughter, Eleanor, shows me something new about herself and I get glimpses at the woman she will become.
But I have to say that, in many ways, I’m enjoying it more now than in those first few, sleep deprived weeks. While my wife and I were attempting to adjust to providing care for our new baby who seemed to demand constant attention, I also was introduced to the concept of being “On Call.” All of us at Pastoral Care, like many other departments, take turns being on call overnight. It can be exciting, as you never know when you’ll get called. And it can also be draining as you pull back into the driveway just getting home from a call, only to hear your pager go off once again.
I remember clearly one night, after having stayed up late surfing the web, I went into the bedroom to try to lie down and get some sleep. My wife and the baby had been in their beds for a while (at that time her bed was still in our room) when I crept under the covers. I recall laying there on the edge of the bed, looking over at the pager on my nightstand, just waiting for it to go off, afraid to really let go and go to sleep because I knew if I did it would buzz and wake me up. I then turned over and saw my wife experiencing the same thing, only she wasn’t looking at the pager, she was looking at the baby, just waiting for her to wake up, to cry, to need comfort. I had to laugh. We were both “on call.”
For many of us the demands of life feel like a pager ready to ring and interrupt our sleep, or a baby, ready to wake up and scream at a moment’s notice. Our responsibilities with work, family and friends seem to compound at this time of year as we rush to fit it all in before the end of the year. As family gathers, it can be hard to enjoy the holidays when we’re on edge, waiting for some new crisis or need to break loose and fall upon us.
But this time of year is also when we are reminded of God’s presence with us. Immanuel is coming. He will be born in a manger. This is the time of year when we remember that, though God may seem distant, He is coming, out of love, to dwell among us and to transform our lives, our relationships and our communities. This baby will be born, and He will change all of our lives forever. It is our joy to find out just how, as He reveals himself to us and as we seek to let him use us to reveal Him to others, bit by bit, day by day, in this holiday season and throughout eternity.