In the thirty-fifth week of her pregnancy, my wife had some complications. She was ordered to bed for the rest of the pregnancy, and obviously we were worried. I prepared to give a blessing with fasting, seclusion and prayer. The resulting was an outpouring of spiritual gifts that left us all breathless. It gave my wife a tremendous boost of hope and faith.
Just after this, as we all stood around the bed blinking, one of my two year old sons said, very clearly, ‘The baby is a girl. Her name is Emma.’
OK. So on one hand, we had asked the boys to speculate on the sex of the baby repeatedly, as a sort of parlor game. And he had certainly understood that we were talking about and praying about the baby.
On the other hand, something miraculous had just happened. After beginning the blessing in English, I just started doing it in Finnish, well beyond my actual language abilities. I was aware of what I was saying, but the vocabulary just slipped in…kind of like when I sing a hymn in Finnish and I know the lyrics in English and I’m just sounding out the Finnish words. I am a rational person who tends to dismiss miracles, but this was something very real. So that’s the context.
Also, we couldn’t figure out where he’d heard the name Emma. It is a common Finnish name, but we can’t think of anyone he’s ever met named Emma, or anyone on TV or in a book.
But back to the first hand: why would God care what we named our kid? It is true that we struggle to find names that will work in both English and Finnish, and so maybe it was a revelation to help us solve that problem? My wife developed a hell of a theory that our daughter would play a pivotal role in the second coming and she is named in scripture not yet revealed. Not bad. (Remember, she spent five weeks in bed.)
The baby is a boy. We call him Edward. I have to say I’m relieved. I don’t think I could have lived with a kid for the next 16 years with the suspicion that he has a direct line to God.