the wonder of babies

Posted on April 9, 2011


“Nothing Is So Strong As Gentleness, Nothing So Gentle As Real Strength.” (St. Francis De Sales)

“Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.” (Jean Vanier)

There is something miraculous about babies. They embody such a clear expression of both our eternal natures and our temporal lives here on earth.

The eternal essence is something that comes through to me because they are so “other” than the rest of us. It is like they arrived from somewhere in new bodies but yet when I look into their eyes, there is so much more looking back at me. “Are you really a new soul? Or have you been around a while waiting to be joined to a new, vulnerable little body?” “Who are you? Where did you come from? What are you here for? What will you leave behind?” They fill me with wonder and make me wonder … far beyond what is. They make me know there is more than what meets the eye. And when I have the great privilege of holding a baby, I know that I am holding some sort of snapshot of eternity. In my arms is something so precious. Somehow, this tiny bundle in my arms is something greater than me.

The temporal essence lies in their fragility, vulnerability, and total dependency on us. It lies in their primitive cries for what they need; a cry so primal that it startles us to attention; a cry so clear that it can’t be ignored; a cry of communication from the soul that demands attention be given immediately.

I love babies. Can you tell? I worry that sometimes I’m a bit of a threat to some moms because I can just hang out with a baby for hours. We “get” each other or something. They calm down if given a chance. Me too. I get very calm as I hold a baby.  You know how sometimes the deepest relationships are ones where you can just “be” with someone without words, without expectations? Well, for some reason, that’s kind of natural for me and babies. There is something about that new life that just wants to be present with you. A deep sense of oneness is very easy for me and little ones. It is soooo calming and peaceful for both of us. I’m in a zone, another world. Actually, I have a hard time coming back sometimes. Such peace. That presence stays with me for a long time. I think this is what people that are hurting deeply respond the best to. Just being there. Present with them. No expectation. Just carrying their pain with them.

You know, I find this same type of relationship to best describe the ideal relationship with God. Just “being with”…

Mother Teresa was once asked in an interview, “What do you say when you pray?” She thought for a while and then replied slowly, “Nothing, I just listen.” So the reporter asked, “Well then, what does God say to you?” Her answer, again slowly and thoughtfully, “Nothing much, He just listens.” (Shane Claiborn, Prayers for Ordinary Radicals)