Family Life | Opinion

Glimpses of Eden

An unexpected baby breathes new life into challenging times.

This article was published in our August 10 issue under the title “Never Say Never”

The COVID crisis sparks a broad spectrum of emotions for me. Some days I’m faithfully optimistic – trusting God’s promise that he works all things for the good of those who love him. Other times I’m seriously discouraged by the grim statistics, the spectre of the “second wave,” and the ever-changing restrictions and regulations we’re subjected to. 

I’ve weaned myself from daily newscasts, weary of the steady stream of pandemic related stories. Even commercials for everything from fast food to furniture feature some angle of the virus. I’m sick of hearing that “we’re in this together” (which is why we have to stay six feet apart). Church is a distant memory. Simple errands are a challenge. 

Last Tuesday morning I lay in bed waiting for the alarm clock to sound. Summer is my favourite time of year. Watching the sunrise and listening to the birds sing brings me great joy. But the joy was tempered by thoughts of the day ahead and the new normal we’re all facing at the moment. 

Then a text message from my son focused me on better things: “We’re at the hospital. Have been all night. No news just yet.” 

Our eighth grandchild was about to arrive.

I walked past the collage of photographs taken for our 35th anniversary and smiled at the memory of that day. The family had gathered at James and Willene’s farm on a glorious fall afternoon. As we ate lunch afterward James said with a grin, “Well, Mom, I hope you’re happy with your grandchildren. This is it for us – a boy and a girl.”

“I couldn’t be happier, James,” I said. “Daniel and Cassy are wonderful. But Stephanie and Aaron just married last year, and Jessica may very well have more children in the future.”

“Yup,” he continued. “Just saying that this branch of the family tree is full.” h

Never say never

I took him at his word. In the seven years since, our family has grown. Stephanie and Aaron had Abigail, Hanna and Chloe. Jessica married Graham, and together with RJ, they welcomed Emmett to the family. 

Then one night last winter James called. Daniel, now age eleven, and Cassy, seven, giggled on speaker phone. “The kids have some news for you,” said James.

They burst forth in unison: “Mom’s going to have a baby!” 

“Oh wow!” I said, playing along with the joke. “And when is the baby coming?”

“July 16!” 

This was genuine. I was stunned. Thrilled. Delighted. Stunned! As Willene’s mom, Joan, put it, everyone was surprised – except James and Willene, who had decided their family wasn’t quite complete after all.

And now the big day was here. Shortly before 8:00 a.m. a precious baby girl made her debut – Eden Joan.

The next day I sat between Daniel and Cassy and cradled Eden, a tiny little bundle as exquisite as her name. “Is she adorable?” said Cassy fondly.

“Absolutely adorable,” I said.

Later I lay in bed, thinking of what a strange year this has been so far. Things we never thought possible are now part of our daily lives. Events we never anticipated have rocked the globe. Never say never, the old adage goes. But through it all, God’s love and mercy prevail. Traces of Eden surround us, as pervasive and refreshing as the dew on the lawn, as spectacular as the sunset, as enchanting as a newborn’s face. They are evidence of his abiding presence and assurance of his promise to take us home. 

He alone can say “never” with authority and confidence, as in “Never will I leave you or forsake you.”

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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