Kangaroo care

April 4, 2011

Lately I've been thinking about Jesus' raising of Lazarus as the impetus for the authorities' wanting Jesus dead. It might not be that Jesus raising someone from the dead itself causes the Jewish officials to say, "That's it. Enough is enough," so much as that Jesus is exactly who he says he is: the resurrection and the life.

In Jesus, the word made flesh, there was life with God that had never been conceived of before, that could never have been conceived of before. It is a life of intimacy.

I finally understood how close this life with Jesus really is when I began to look carefully at the prologue of John's Gospel, specifically 1:18. Translations differ as to where "the one and only God" rests. Some say "close to the Father's heart," others, "who is at the Father's side." But the Greek is neither "heart" nor "side" but "bosom," used again in 13:23 when the beloved disciple is first introduced into the narrative.

When I saw just how intimate this relationship as children of God is supposed to be (1:12-13), I thought of my firstborn son, who was born nine weeks premature. He weighed less than four pounds, and I could do little to care for him in his first days of life.

Five days in, the NICU nurse said to me, "Today you are going to hold Sig." I didn't want to. I was terrified of the needles and tubes. But Shelley gently placed him on my chest and said, "This is what we call kangaroo care."

It turns out that premature babies who spend good portions of time on the bosom of the mother or father develop exponentially faster in everything they need to be able to leave the hospital. They gain weight, eat on their own and maintain their body temperature.

With John 1:18, it's almost as if the translators did not know what to do with this intimacy. Do we?