One of the first things that a newborn learns is that its voice, its cry, can affect the world and bring something broken back into alignment. I’ve been present for the birth of eight babies, including one that I caught in the bedroom of my home before emergency personnel could arrive, so I can say with reasonable certainty that the first thing a baby does when it exits the womb and enters the world is cry. And if it isn’t crying something is wrong. The cry is the best means to bring air, wind, breath into the baby, and that breath is vitally tied to the baby’s life, it’s survival. Interestingly, whenever the bible presents us the word “spirit” the literal word that is used in both the Greek (pneuma) and Hebrew is a word that means wind or breath. That spirit or breath is tied to life, and from the very first moments of a baby’s manifestation in the world the connection between human breath life and spirit is glaringly obvious.
But going further down this path, the inevitable thing happens when that baby’s cry, it’s voice, is manifest, is that things happen—things that make things better. The cry brings effect, and how long does it take the baby to learn this. Seconds, minutes, hours? It can’t be longer than that. Or is it built in, rather? Even if it is “built in” you can bet that the baby adds conception and understanding to this system almost immediately. Again, eight episodes of observation and participation have taught me this.
A baby exists in paradise. That is it’s baseline default condition—a beautiful, walled, protected garden where all needful things are provided without work. A place without sin, malice, time and any meaningful opposition. Certainly that is the case in the womb, and for some time that will be the baseline condition outside of the womb. Observe a newborn baby nestled into its mothers breast, drinking the milk of human kindness, and try to convince me that that baby isn’t in paradise—it’s not going to happen. It’s absolutely unaware that surrounding it is a fallen world where suffering, death and pain are the baseline conditions, but the baby will become conscious of itself and that fallen world soon enough.
And so perhaps it should be no surprise that the means to eventually deal with that fallen world is manifest in the baby’s first moments following the womb. We learn that in the beginning was the Word, the “logos” in Greek, and by this logos, the word of God, things come into being, chaos is turned into order, the unorganized is organized. God said “let there be light, and there was light.” And so it is with us, the children of God, who although not God, nonetheless contain God’s image. And something of the divine logos seems to be the nature of this image.
The baby cries, the baby manifests its voice, and something happens. The universe springs into action to the baby’s voice. There is nothing more irresistible, more unavoidable and captivating than that voice. The baby’s baseline condition is paradise, but once the baby leaves the womb the baby learns that paradise can be breached—the cold frigid air of a changed diaper, the loving “pokes” of a curious brother or sister, the rumblings clogs and pressures of a digestive system in development. But through the baby’s voice paradise can be restored, chaos can be made into order, stormy seas can be made calm again through the logos’ command of “peace, be still”.
Of course, the baby’s voice is just a tool of the logos, not the logos itself. If the baby’s vocal chords didn’t work, there would be other ways of manifesting its voice into the world. The baby needs to learn this first lesson of lessons because eventually it will awaken to a higher reality in which it’s eyes will be opened to the fact that paradise is in fact not the baseline condition of this world. This is a world where everyone has to run as fast as they can just to stay in one place. A world where if you want to suffer, all you have to do is just sit around a wait for a few minutes.
But that’s where that the development of that first gift in paradise comes in. For even in a fallen world, the logos nevertheless operates as it did in the previous state. Potential things, better things, can be imagined, and through the word, the voice of a person, those potential things can be pulled into existence, and the fallen world made a little better, a little nudge toward the heavenly world. The manifestation of the logos can take many forms—the spoken word, the written word, the mathematical word, the word manifest in art and imagery, dance, facial expression, action, and on, and on—and it is those who have learned to imagine yet unobtained states of being, and then do the work of pulling those better-imagined states into existence through the word, through the logos that they first manifest in the arms of their mother—it is these people who are responsible for incrementally, stone by stone, building the kingdom of God on earth.