After writing about the joys of ordinary miracles, those things that happen all the time and seem normal—like birthdays or celebrating anniversaries—I got thinking about the joys of those not-so-common experiences: firsts.
As I write this I am one week away from getting married, which will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From that moment Sarah and I will encounter many firsts as a married couple: our first dance, our first international trip together, our first time hosting friends as a married couple, our first joint credit card, and eventually our first child. Out from each first seems to burst a special joy that truly can be felt and seen. Years ago I remember my bichon Leena seeing snow for the first time. She bounded into the snow banks with abandon, and when she emerged, face full of snow, she nearly seemed to be smiling.
More recently there was a viral video of a deaf woman hearing for the first time. Ignatius talks about God’s gaze on us. It would be hard to say that God wasn’t delighting with her in that moment.
God shares with us a special delight in firsts. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with references to the first fruits, the first agricultural produce of the season, which was offered to God. Jesus was known to be the “firstborn of all creation,” existing in the Trinity long before humankind. In Genesis, God’s delight radiates from the very first day of creation.
As Sarah and I encounter the many firsts ahead of us, we can be assured of God’s sharing in our joy—the same joy my dog showed as she bounded through the snow and the same joy the deaf woman’s tears showed as she heard for the first time. It’s the joy in the discovery of new experiences and new sensations. And God, who created our ability to feel and emote and experience, witnesses us in this discovery. I can’t help but see God smile.