A Mormon Image: Weighing Eternity

February 17, 2010 | 16 comments
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Weighing Miriam_0548 (1)

An oft-quoted passage from our Bible Dictionary states that “only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” This statement has been concretely validated in the birth of our children. No experience I have ever had has compared in holiness with our experiences of welcoming our children into this world and into our home. For me, this picture captures a great deal of what my faith is. The baby, a few minutes old, is being weighed. In the mirror you see my wife (taking the picture), myself, our baby, and the midwife mediator who helped us bring our daughter into the world. It very much reminds me of the temple and our covenants. My own pose is for me a visual demonstration of what I hope I am doing as a father.

In this picture, as in my life, there is no separation between my religion and my family, my God and family, my home and the sacred, our raising a family and our worship. Perhaps this is a luxury, even within Mormonism. But even without our fantastically blessed experiences, I think this would remain my ideal.

by James Olsen

This photograph is part of our ongoing series highlighting Mormon images. Comments to the post are welcome; all comments should be respectful. In addition we invite you to submit your own images to the Mormon Image series. Other images in the series can be found here. Rules and instructions, including submissions guidelines, can be found here.

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16 Responses to A Mormon Image: Weighing Eternity

  1. Marc Bohn on February 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Wow. Fantastic James. A lot to mull on here.

  2. John Hamilton on February 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Great picture. Took me a minute though to figure out what you were doing to that baby. A special moment. Absolutely no other success in life can compare with that moment when each of my children were born.

  3. document on February 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    (site note)…My wife is a natural birther, but all have been in the hospital. We are planning our next with a midwife in our home. We’re so excited!

  4. Cameron Nielsen on February 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I think this is the best picture so far. Thank you!

  5. Matt Evans on February 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Great image and post, James.

  6. jeans on February 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Those adorable baby feet! I love this photo.

  7. James Olsen on February 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for your comments everyone. This picture has been an absolute favorite in our family and I’m happy we were able to share it.

    document – we’ve delivered in a hospital, birthing center, and in our home. For us, each birth has been absolutely wonderful, but each shift of venue has also been a dramatic improvement. Our homes, our family temples, is the perfect place for a birth. As I mentioned, this is a luxury not available to everyone. Literally, thank God for our medical knowledge, hospitals, doctors, and others who do so much to bless our families. But I can’t help but think more people would likewise experience something new and beautiful birthing in their homes, just as we did, if there weren’t such a powerful, almost overwhelming default in favor of hospitals today. I’ve talked to very few families who have even considered, let alone looked into having children at home. I personally would like to see this default shift – I think people would find something special in it. The addition of a baby is undeniably sacred, but the experience of having the baby can be as well.

  8. Dane on February 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    James, I’m proud of the work you and Erin do. Your home is a cornerplace, a place of every wonderful and joyous thing.

  9. Henry on February 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I am probably going to sound ditzy but what are they doing to this baby?

  10. James Olsen on February 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Henry – they’re weighing her (7 lbs 8 oz). Weighing Eternity.

  11. Henry on February 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Oh. Interesting.

  12. CatherineWO on February 18, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Gotta love those feet!
    Three of my grandchildren were born at home (one set of twins), and I was there for those births. Truly, truly amazing.

  13. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Given tools like ultrasound and modern communications and emergency transportation that can detect anomalies and rush a woman and/or the baby to a hospital in case of complications, giving birth at home can be safe as well as emotional. On the other hand, in light of my wife’s experience with premature births, long labor, and then caesarean sections, I am glad that there are nice facilities now in hospitals that provide more of a homelike experience while providing immediate access to the full range of modern medical resources, including neonatal intensive care.

    When I was a teenager in 1963, the wife of the President of the US gave birth prematurely, and the baby did not survive. When my own first son was born over a month premature ten years later, he spent a month in the ICU, getting care that even the president’s child could not have had in 1963.

    When our twin daughters were born six weeks premature, my wife had spent a month in the hospital trying to forestall labor.

    We encountered a number of moms over the years who felt superior because of giving birth “naturally” at home. I am glad for their kids that they did OK. If we had ever tried that, though, none of our kids would have survived.

  14. Chelsea on February 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    What a great photo, I love this post. I love the aspects of our theology that tie together family life and eternal principles.

    I have personally never considered giving birth at home, because for me the birthing experience is made much more enjoyable with some pain control.

  15. James Olsen on February 19, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Yes, Raymond, as I mentioned it’s a luxury not available to everyone, and we all ought to be grateful for the safety net (often needed) that comes about with medical technology. The intent of the photo and post was not to promote home birthing, but as Chelsea notes, our theology that ties together family and divinity, and is enacted concretely in the experience of the birth of our children.

    Nonetheless, I think there are ways of promoting non-hospital births as a potential alternative without denying the necessity of hospitals and without denigrating others’ hospital experiences. The reality is, your wife would never be accepted as a client by a midwife today. Even today it’s extremely unlikely that a woman with your wife’s complications would have home birthing as an option.

  16. Stephanie on February 20, 2010 at 12:35 am

    This is awesome.

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