Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
(John 4: 3- 7)
Isn't this the sweetest picture you have ever seen? It melts my heart to see these two little people that I love dressed in white, together.
As I wrote in Noelle's birth story everything about her birth went perfect, except for the fact she was born on the day Asher was going to be baptized. At the time it seemed like a perfect tragedy and a cruel twist of fate. Yet, like always, God's timing turned out to be much better. We ended up having Asher's baptism and Noelle's baby blessing on the same day, the day after Christmas.
It was perfect.
In fact, I don't know if that day could have gotten any better. It may just go down as one of the best days of my life. It was certainly a motherhood "pay day".
We held the baptism and blessing at Jon's parent's chapel, the building where Jon attended church growing up. Even though we'd had to reschedule things we still had quite a bit of family come, and all the grandparents were there. It was a private service and so Jon and I got to plan the program. We began by singing Gethsemane, which is Asher's favorite primary song. Then we had Noelle's blessing.
As I watched all the important men in Noelle's life encircle her and collectively bear her in their arms my heart throbbed. Her blessing was sweet and I was especially touched by something Jon said in it. He told her that she had already completed the first step in her mortal journey, birth and that now she was here to continue progressing to receive all the rest of the ordinances she'd need to return to her Heavenly Parents.
After the baby blessing we had several talks and a musical number and then it was Asher's turn. One of my sister-in-laws, when she had heard we were canceling the baptism due to a birth, jokingly suggested that since all my children have been born in the water I could just get in the font after Asher was done and have the baby there. It would save us the trouble of re-scheduling everything. Jon had thought that was really funny. "It would be perfect," he joked, " What better visual aid could you get of what baptism really is, birth and re-birth all at the same time!"
I know their suggestions were completely in jest, but as I watched Jon take Asher down into the water and immerse him I couldn't help but think about his birth. I thought about how eight years earlier I'd been the one in the water with that same little boy, and how it had been me who reached down and pulled him out of the water, newborn and naked, onto my chest. Now it was Jon's turn. It was his turn, as Asher's father, to give him his re-birth, a birth every bit as real and important as his mortal birth.
The baptism itself didn't last more than a few moments and then Jon raised Asher out of the water. He wrapped his arms around him and they walked, dripping and white, out of the font. As I watched those two leave I looked down at my new little girl, bundled up in her blanket and sucking on her pacifier. I pulled her tighter to my chest. It had only been a week since she'd been born and my body still felt empty, hollow, without her inside. I thought of her birth and how she'd come to earth in water and blood, my water and my blood. I'd made her mortal.
The idea of becoming mortal, just dust of the earth, would be a sad one if it weren't for the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, his blood and his water, we can literally be born again. Not as mortals, but this time as immortal beings to live and dwell with God forever.
Sometimes I like to think about this earth as one giant womb, a place where we are all gestating and growing. A place where we are, as President Kimball said all "a god in embryo", preparing for our birth into our next sphere as eternal beings. Yet just like a human embryo most go through certain stages of development and growth, so must our spirituals embryos go through the right movements in order to reach their potential.
In D&C 88: 15-16 it says,
"And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul ...the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him. Then ye shall know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound."
(D&C 88: 49-50)Our spirits have already been born, they were born in heaven to our Heavenly Parents long before we came to earth. Our bodies have already been born, they were born when we came to earth through our mothers. It is our souls-- our body and our spirit inseparably connected-- that have yet to be born. It is our souls that we are in the process of growing, gestating. It is our souls that Christ has saved and which he "quickens" through the power of his atonement and resurrection, and it is our souls that are re-born when we come out of the waters of baptism, through the power of the priesthood.
It was beautiful to experience the birth of my youngest child and the re-birth of my oldest child in the same week. To shed my blood in order to give Noelle her mortal body, the first step of her journey, and to watch Asher enter the water of baptism and begin his re-birth, the second step of his journey.
A birth and re-birth, one done by me, through the power of God and the other done by Jon, through the power of God.
What a beautiful plan.
Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
Moses 6: 58-60