When Ariel, my first born, entered this world, I had a glimpse of what it is to be God.
She was born two months early, through an abrupt birth, an emergency C-section. I was kicked out of the delivery room, though I begged as a father, not as a physician. Wheeled out inside a glass chamber, she was the size of a kitten.
It was eve of Shabbat. I fell to the ground and prayed with tears, wavering between joy and despair, my wife being sutured in one room, my daughter gasping for air in another.
“Dear God, please let them live. Let me see her blossom. Let her mother see her marry under the chuppah, in Your Presence.” It was the second time I pleaded that night.
Friends who poke fun at my mystical conversations, ask “Why would an all-knowing God create a world that has so much suffering? Why does it matter if you pray?” There are those who recount the millions of stars in the night sky, the number of sands beneath the endless oceans, the infinite complexity of cells in motion, and ridicule the egotistical importance of tiny humans.
Yet this helpless two pound flesh changed my life. I knew it would not be easy; from the outset she was in the ICU for six weeks. I also knew that when she would grow up, that she would lie, that she would anger me, that she would get sick, and that one day she would leave me for another man. I felt an intense pain on my side, my rib torn, and a small being carved out in my image. And I loved her. Immediately. Without reason. Without choice. And regardless of what would come in the future, I wanted it all, rather than none. So it is in the heart of love, that something is better than nothing. And I knew, for this love, for my love, was the world created.
When a child is born, we know his magnificence, her glory. But we fold to the pressures of life, and through bitter science, we forget. We say, how could he matter in this vast world? What is she compared to all those galaxies? Over and over again, our faith teaches that we matter greatly to God, more so than a child to a parent. She knows that we will sin, we will walk away from Her, and still, She wants us.
In his TED talk, Pastor Rick Warren recalls God’s question to Moses “What’s in your hand?” Warren asserts that we are each charged with unique talents to heal an ailing world. In our hands we each hold a part of the solution. We must know our self worth, our significance, to have the courage to serve. The question that beckons becomes “How can I use my unique powers to heal, to love, to serve?” Yet, what defines Moses’ greatness is his humility. It is not our ego that matters, but our power to heal. It is not ‘I’ that matters, but ‘We’.
Understanding our own significance without arrogance gives us the fuel to fly. This is the lesson to teach our Children. Each night, as we tuck them in, we say “I love you; God loves you. I am proud of you; God is proud of you.” The best lesson parents can teach their children is not through words but through treating each other respectfully as vital vessels of love and healing.
Rabbi Akiva taught "Even more beloved is he for it was made known to him that he was created in the image of God.” We love our children; God loves us. As Rumi whirls "Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion."
We are, each of us, irreplaceable to a loved one; those who love us deeply know this too well at the time of death. Yesterday, dressed in black, the heaviness of life's pangs on her shoulders, my patient's tears pierced my heart as she told me about her daughter's long, losing battle with cancer. In her words, “I have lost my heart and I don’t know what is beating in its place.” A mother should never bury her daughter. Fundamental to our significance, is our irreplaceability.
We are human to ourselves, angel to others. God has a purpose for us. Yes, your life matters. You matter!