All of this talk about how fragile life is in a place that is seemingly teeming with it, this recognition of how improbable it is that even a single promise of life becomes fulfilled, leads us to a very natural point of discussion: the sanctity of life itself.
When you think about all that it takes to get one simple seed to grow, that one little life becomes so precious that you can't help but do everything in your power to honor, to value, and to bless the life that comes out of it.
Yes, this is a post about abortion. (And I'll have something to say about that tomorrow.)
Our culture pitches abortion as a "responsible" decision. It tells us that it's good for us to end a life that is unwanted before it even begins. The problem, of course, is that by the time we're making that decision, we're already talking about a life. We're already talking about a fetus in whom the completely improbable has already happened.
Billions (even more) sperm make that swim every year. Countless carriers of the male DNA go after the prize of the egg. Billions of eggs are released every year, floating around in a state of availability and then, often, washed out with the waste, having never taken on life. Couples, married or not, engage in intercourse all over the planet every second of every day. And overwhelmingly, all of these encounters, all of these attempts, all of these possibilities do not result in a pregnancy. Ask any couple who is intentionally trying for a child, and they'll tell you just how rare and elusive conception itself is.
Life doesn't just happen because all of the ingredients are there; it truly takes a miracle.
It takes everything coming together just right. It takes all the right angles and strengths and speeds and healths and just the right encounters at just the right moments. And of all of the billions and trillions and quintillions of acts in the world that could result in a child, very, very few of them (mathematically) do. It's not an accident when it happens. Even though we have created a cultural verbage that calls it just that - an accident. Something with a very small statistical chance of occurrence occurs, something with all the hope and promise of life itself, and we have taught ourselves to say....oops.
And if that's not enough, if we aren't willing to accept right out that it's an accident, then we start making judgments on the quality of that hope, that promise. We start to look at the genetics of it. Is it perfect? Is it everything we dreamed of?
We run all kinds of tests and simulations and data to determine whether the miracle we're carrying is blessed or not. Read that again - we want to know if this veritable miracle is blessed.
If we find something that doesn't look blessed - a genetic defect, an imperfect formation, a health problem, or the like - then we say that it is mercy to abort the miracle. We say it's better to just end it now than to let the promise of life be at all lesser than our vision of it. Never mind the fact that this life is the one that's happening against all odds already. This union of sperm and egg has already made it further than innumerable others. This child has already fought for the chance to fulfill its hope. Yet, we have created a story that says this child can't possibly have hope at all. Just because it doesn't look like our preconceived notion of it.
Life, though it surrounds us, is improbable. So much has to happen very specifically correct to take us from a hope and a promise to life abundant, life fulfilled. In every breath, so much potential for the next breath is wasted. It's just wasted. It doesn't come to anything. And then we finally get something that does, we finally get life that is starting to form, and we've created a cultural narrative where we do everything we can to kill it before it even lives. Like life just happens by chance, and that chance will come along some other time if we want it.
That chance might, but this miracle won't. This life is never happening again, not like this. Not with everything that this life is going to bring into the world. We get one shot, just one shot, at this improbable hope.
And it's already made it this far.
How on earth do we live with ourselves when we say that's not enough?