Richard Rohr writes in his daily column today that psychologists have determined that there is no such thing as ‘an infant’. That in essence, it is an infant/caregiver. For the first several months of life, the infant only sees the world as mirrored through their caregivers eyes. They are one and the same.
Rohr, quotes historian, Morris Berman, who writes in Coming to Our Senses, that our first experience of life is not merely a visual or audio one of knowing ourselves through other people’s facial and verbal responses; it is primarily felt in the body. He calls this feeling kinesthetic knowing. We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us, skin to skin. This early knowing is not so much heard, seen, or thought. It’s felt.
Last night, my beloved and I shared some Facetime with our grandson, Thurlow. At almost two months of age, he has grown considerably (almost double his birth weight) and is much more alert and active as he moves further from being a preemie to infant state. When he was born, my daughter and son-in-love spent lots of skin to skin time with him, reassuring him of his connection, imprinting his belonging into his body knowing.
I am in awe of my daughter as she moves with such grace into this place called, being a mother. I am also in awe of the transformative power of love. It isn’t just that Thurlow sees the world through the eyes of infant/caregiver, it is that my daughter is seeing her son through the same eyes and they are one. In their oneness is the magnificence of our human condition shimmering in the divine essence of our human nature and its natural affinity to Love.
No one human on this earth is born separate. We are all born of our mother’s bodies. Yet, many are deprived of experiencing the mystical power of oneness of those first few months of life on earth.
A host of human afflictions can circumvent the infant/caregiver bond. Poverty, war, abuse, trauma, the turmoils of life in a divisive world, all of this can play a role in our not experiencing the body knowing of oneness that is foundational to our feeling the truth of our identity: We are beloved. Cast adrift too soon, separated from our oneness with the one who carried us into this world, we flounder, bereft, searching for a way to heal the brokenness we cannot name because we never experienced what it meant to not be separate in those first foundational months of life on earth.
I watch my daughter and son-in-love express their love and oneness with my grandson last night. I am in awe. I am grateful. No matter what turmoil, hardship, roadblocks, or strife life may put on his path, he will always know, deep within his body, the truth of his identify; he is beloved. And while his journey will include necessary separateness from his parents, the deep knowing of his oneness will always sustain him, always bring him home to the truth.
What a beautiful gift of life.