Tuesday, March 29, 2005

This Life.

My Sister in Law had a baby yesterday. A beautiful little girl. She is my children's 17th cousin. My SIL is 43. Her youngest was 11. This was a big surprise. She and my brother were very upset at first. But now, of course, she is filled with joy with this new child. When she found out she called me first, even before her parents, because she knew that I would be excited and happy for her. She knew I would not gasp and say "How could you let this happen?" Oh, how I love babies. I love the way they smell all brand new. I love how soft they are. I love their tiny fingers.

When I held my first son I thought "you can't even speak to me, you are helpless and messy and I have only seen you for a few hours, but my love for you is greater than any love I have ever known. How is this? I don't really even know you, yet I would throw myself in front of train this minute if it was to save you."

Where does this love come from? We love our parents, but they have taken care of us and loved us. We love our friends who stand by us. We love our spouses because we fell in love with them. But a baby has given us nothing to earn this love. Yet it is the largest love. It is a love that fills every nook and cranny of the heart. How do we explain it?

Once, many years ago, I was watching a special on Mother Teresa. She was in one of her orphanges somewhere, probably Calcutta. She was going around to the cribs and holding the babies. She stopped at one crib and reached down to stroke the baby. The camera panned down and showed the baby who was visibly deformed. She had some tubes attached so Mother Teresa couldn't hold her, but she was stroking her. I started to cry. What a sad thing. A terrible life. This poor poor baby.

Then the camera panned back to show both Mother Teresa and the baby and Mother Teresa looked at the cameraman and said, "Isn't she beautiful?"

Well, that is when I completely lost it. I cried and cried. Because I realized how wrong I had been. I was looking at this child the way the world looks at it. Sad and pathetic. But Mother Teresa was looking at this child as God sees it. And it was beautiful.

This life. With whatever heartache it brings. With whatever cross there is to bear. This life is beautiful. There are gifts we are given and there are gifts we are to give. Some so small we have to look closely to see them. Some so great we take them for granted. But every single life has a purpose. Every single life has meaning.

Perhaps this is what we have forgotten. Perhaps this is what we need to remember. This is what we have now. And it is beautiful.