Friday, April 15, 2011

The Miracle

It’s almost a universal reaction.  You gaze at a newborn baby who is sleeping in sublime peace, and you’re overcome by the sheer miracle of life and birth.

In the week after my son was born, as various relatives and friends were stopping by to hold and meet the baby, I heard more than once, “How can you look at a newborn baby and not believe in God?”  The question wasn’t directed at anyone in particular.  It wasn't an admonition.  It was a statement of awe.  Look at this miracle of creation.

My mother-in-law held him and stroked his tiny ears, “Look how they’re so perfect.  How everything is so perfectly formed.”  They are perfect.  Just look at a newborn.  Mine had a misshapen and bruised head at birth.  Infant acne set in around week two.  Then his scalp started peeling and his hair fell out in odd patches.  And while these “flaws” might be decidedly off-putting in an adult, on a delicate newborn, they were barely noticed.  Instead, visitors commented on his beautiful eyes, his perfect mouth, his exquisitely tiny fingernails.

Yesterday, I texted a picture of my two month old to my dad.  “What a blessing,” he replied.  Indeed.  Then at the grocery store, the teenage girl who was bagging my groceries couldn't take her eyes off him, and finally cooed, “He is so precious.”  A passerby in the mall murmured, more to herself than me, “What a beautiful baby.”

As human beings we seem to intuitively sense God’s perfection in babies.

Pushing my cart out of the grocery store yesterday, I passed a very old man.  He must have been close to ninety years old.  He walked slowly, like it was no longer easy, and yet he walked.  His skin hung almost loose and in folds.  His hair was white and sparse.  Behind glasses, there was unmistakable light in his eyes.  I looked at him, smiled hello, and heard myself saying, “What a miracle.”

Why do we see beauty and perfection in children, but not in each other or in ourselves?  Each person you encounter was once that delicate, perfectly formed infant.  Have they become less worthy of love and adoration just because they’ve grown?

Two days ago, my daily calendar of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s teachings read, “You are the miracle that you seek.” What a reminder.  If only we could see in ourselves and each other, every day, the beauty we see in babies.

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