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This Graced Life

by Kerry Gonzales


It is difficult in our modern world, where we rush from one event to the next, to really find the time to experience a miracle at first hand. I suspect that we don't even expect to find one in our lives these days as they are routinely only occurring for Mary McKillop and others venturing towards sainthood. However I was recently very privileged to be with my daughter and son-in-law at the birth of their first child and our first grandchild. There is not doubt in my mind that the event was a miracle.

For many months prior to the birth we had been a part of an unfolding journey that was in its own way just as miraculous as the arrival itself. I am a mother of three, so pregnancy and birth is no mystery, or so I thought. Yet so many things have changed since I had my youngest child 22 years ago. Medical understanding of the process has developed and the information provided for parents has expanded so that they are really aware and part of the entire process.

For me, however, to watch my daughter as her pregnancy advanced and share the progress with her was something special - a new and wonderful development of our mother/daughter relationship. To see my daughter revel in her pregnant status and move confidently into her mothering role was a joy in itself. Also, even though she had the back up of doctors and the internet, my experience as a woman and mother was valued.

If you listen to the media these days in regard to dwindling birth rates and older mothers, it is a miracle for a woman my age (49) to be able to realise grandmother status. My daughter is only in her early twenties and as I was a young mother myself, it is not yet impossible for her baby to have been my own. I may even be one of the miraculous few who reach great grandmotherhood, however I'm more than happy to be where I am without dreaming on.

Then came to miracle of the birth itself. Early in the pregnancy I had asked my daughter if I could be a support for the birth and she allowed me that privilege. I remember my own three births well, but mostly the joy of the end result and although none of mine had been easy, our bodies and minds tend to forget the more daunting memories and focus on the positive. So, while I was very keen to be a participant, I was also quite nervous about my role, as I wanted to remain a secondary player, so that my daughter and son-in-law were not overwhelmed by my presence.

I won't dwell on the details of the birth itself, but we went into hospital at 1am on Saturday morning and the baby was born at 4.12pm on Sunday. Towards the end it became obvious that there were problems with the baby and she was quickly brought into the world. The birth was another miracle as we all had to place our faith in the hands of the doctor and midwives whose skills read the situation and whose actions provided a safe passage for baby Rose to enter this world.

Now we come to the biggest miracle of all - baby Rose herself. To look on the perfection of a newborn baby is surely to see someone who is truly the likeness and image of God. Without conscious effort on her part she has come into the world, our world, ready to be loved and nurtured to grow and develop into the potential adult that already exists within her tiny body, mind and soul. Such a miracle can only be the result of a god - however you choose to name that entity.

My own life journey has now taken another turn as I begin to come to terms with this new role as grandmother. I need to trust and have faith that my place in Rose's life will be one that brings both of us new growth and joy. I don't even really want to think about the enormous responsibility that I take on every time her parents entrust me with her care. However, I am ready and willing so that is a good place to start.

Rose at barely a week old came to mass with me this morning and slept through the entire thing. As a proud grandmother however I got to show her off to my faith community. Rose will not be baptised into the Catholic faith, or any faith for that matter, but that's okay. My faith in God tells me that no matter what the rules say, our Rose will become a spiritual adult because her parents have a depth of spirituality that transcends dogma, ritual and canon law. Our Rose will know God through the people who love her and the faces of Christ that she meets along the road of her journey.

Perhaps the final miracle in this process is that Rose will not journey alone, but will be lead and nurtured by a diverse group of people who know they do not have all the answers, but who are willing to ask the questions.

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