I feel different today. Not whole by any means, but more optimistic I guess. I don't feel like writing about my grief. I want to tell you about Jonah, and a lesson I have learned from him.
I grew up believing that we are all created in the image of God. I never really questioned this idea, because it makes sense to me. I like the idea of praying to a God who is like me, who understands me. In the book of Genesis 1:26 its says "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
Before Jonah was born this phrase was a normal part of my theological vernacular. It found its way easily into casual and serious religious conversations without too much thought on my part. But when Jonah was born, and his body was "imperfect," I couldn't help but think more deeply about what it means to be made in God's image or likeness. If God is perfect how can we be so imperfect? How can each of us be so different and still be made in His image? If we are made in His image why are some born crippled and some born disfigured?
A few days after Jonah died we had the difficult privilege of preparing his sweet body for burial. I was so nervous. I didn't know what to expect. I was worried that the experience of seeing his dead body would ruin my living memory of him. I had not seen him since we had to leave him at the hospital, but oh how I longed to be with him again. Seeing his little body laying on a seemingly giant bed in the funeral home was almost overwhelming. Even though it was clear his spirit was gone, it was healing to care for his lifeless body. After all I cared for his body his whole life. I knelt beside him and I reached out to touch the beautiful dip in his chest. I traced the outline of his slanted eyes. I rested his tiny fingers over mine. I swept his wispy hair against my cheek. I stayed beside him and cried. Finally I turned to Jordan and told him what a perfect boy we made.
It is easy to be critical of our bodies. We live in a world were "perfection" seems equal to happiness. But I cannot accept that ideology. I have experienced the beauty of "imperfection." Now when I view my own body I think about Jonah and about the God who gave me life. I am grateful for the "imperfect" reminders I have of my boy, and I can't help but wonder how God, the father of our souls, views us. What parts of me are reminiscent of Him? Does His essence shine through me? Maybe we are all perfect to him, just as Jonah was perfect to me. As a loving parent I'm sure he thinks that we are beautiful, in all our variations, because he made us, and we are like him.