For unto us
By Bobby Neal Winters
A lot of folks don’t believe in the hereafter, but it’s one of the most certain things there is. There is going to be something here after you are gone. Two are working in a field: One is taken; one is left. The world just keeps on turning, marrying and giving in marriage.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe there’s been a place prepared for us. The Bible says so, but we don’t have many details. Rather than speculate about that, let’s talk about what we know.
We live in the world and are connected to it. We come in as babies and some manage to survive long enough to die of old age. Every minute of every day we are depending on other people and other people depend on us.
Nobody does it all on their own.
Thoreau wrote a bit about being self-reliant. He said all the the contact he’d had with the outside world was to borrow an axe and that he’d returned it sharper than when he borrowed it. Okay. Good for him. Let’s forget about the thousands of years it took to develop iron-working and all of the folks involved in the making of that axe before it came into his hands. Let’s forget about all the folks he interacted with to get him to that one point in time and space.
We are affected the great cloud of humanity that preceded us. Our parents represent the tip of a cone of events that brought us into being. Thousands of interactions were involved to get that sperm together with that egg at that particular time. Every person that either of them ever met had some effect on that moment. Every person they met have some effect on their thoughts and attitudes.
And that all continues, every hour of every day: like snowflakes in storm, like drops of water in a flood.
But as we are products of the world around us, so does each of us leave a shadow on the future. We leave a piece of ourselves in every person we interact with. These are our co-workers, people on the street, and, yes, our children.
There are women who’ve never given birth who are a mother to hundreds. There are men who act as father to those with whom they share no connection by blood. We all have love gushing from us that needs someplace to go. It is a part of the flood going to the future.
But without children there is no flood.
This is why an occurrence–tragedy doesn’t not capture it–like at Sandy Hook Elementary fills us with such horror. It would’ve been bad enough had adults been killed. The true horror came because of the deaths of the children. They were innocent. They were going to the future a distance most of us cannot go. The threads they were going to weave into our story have been cut.
Killing a child is a horrendous thing. One reason is their innocence, of course. They are fresh pieces of paper covered with nothing but straight blue lines upon which their life stories have yet to be written. But lets not forget they are bridges to the futures. The younger they are the farther they will bridge.
Every child alive is someone to whom you can give something good from yourself to take into the future.
The other day when I was out walking I had an insight that made me stop in my tracks. It almost brought me to tears.
I loved my parents, Momma and Daddy. This I know. I love my wife and my kids more. In less than a second, two things came to me. First: my children will love their spouses and children more than they love me. Second: that is perfectly okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. We are sending more love to the future than we send to the past. Our children–and grandchildren and great grandchildren–carry this ahead and multiply it.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.