My Precious Jewel, how was your day? (By Bobby Angel)
My colleagues at work think that it’s a big deal that I delivered my own child. I am quick to tell them that my wife did most of the work, but the unintentional homebirth of our first child left me with one of the most profound markers of beauty I have ever experienced. The paramedics didn’t arrive until a few minutes after Abigail was born; I had to catch her and was the first person to hold her. It was a powerful experience of beauty in seeing this human person who I helped to bring into creation.
I’ve had many moments witnessing beauty in my life. Sometimes it’s in the mountains or at the beach, during a song or powerful cinematic experience, or even looking at my wife while we dance. But my daughter slays me and has forever ruined me in the most amazing way. Her very name, Abigail, means “source of the father’s joy,” as it derives from Abba, “father.” Whether it’s watching her twirl around in the 14th wardrobe change of the day or seeing the wonder in her eyes of a Disneyland parade, my little Abigail has brought so much joy to our life.
Sure, there’s tantrums and the bizarre need to run around naked without shame. I see my own stubbornness in her as clear as I see my dimple on her left cheek. But I don’t think there’s any other way we can so concretely experience what God experiences when He looks upon us as the phenomena of becoming a parent ourselves. The process of serving such a small creature and selflessly putting a child’s needs before our own is transformative and redemptive.
A friend’s father successfully raised three beautiful daughters to become mature women of faith. I asked him what was his secret. He told me that every night at the dinner table he turned to each of them and said, “My precious jewel, how was your day?” The attention of a loving father cannot be undervalued in the broken times we live in. Father wounds abound in the young people I am blessed to mentor and walk with. If I hope to do anything right in this life, it’s being present and reliable for my children. So yes, at the age of three my daughter is already being asked, “Abigail, my precious jewel, how was your day?”
Abigail was sick during the Christmas of her second year. I remember rocking her in my arms on Christmas Eve. She could barely breathe as her sinuses were clogged, a miserable experience for any adult let alone a child. I somehow managed to get her to finally sleep and in the quiet of that room I felt this tangible connection to Mary holding the vulnerable child Christ. There was nowhere else in the world that I wanted to be.
“Beauty will save the world,” Dostoevsky tells us. I pair this insight with the closing line of the play Les Miserables, that “To love another person is to see the face of God.” By her very existence, my beautiful Abigail has made me into a better man and as I learn to love her better with each year I see ever clearer the radiant face of God.
Bobby Angel is a campus minister and theology teacher at an all-boys’ Catholic high school in California. He enjoys writing, surfing, and drinking too much coffee. He and his wife, Jackie, travel often and speak to youth and young adult audiences, sharing the Gospel and the call to a life of chastity. They have two beautiful daughters who won’t let them sleep. Connect with Bobby at jackieandbobby.com.
See more of what Kate is doing to bring beauty into more places and thus share truth and goodness with our ever hungry souls! Check out her Sacred Art work here!