Thursday, December 24, 2009
A little baby ...
A few days ago, I held a little baby, not yet three months old. She looked out at me and beheld me. Suddenly I felt such responsibility towards her, towards the future. She was looking at me but she was learning about the world. She was figuring out if the world was worth trusting. She was figuring out the relationship between power and vulnerability. In these moments I had with her, I worked to teach her to expect gentleness, to anticipate tenderness and to treasure love. They were fleeting moments and I am not her primary teacher. But, I think we do not make enough of moments like these, moments that come and go without comment, moments that instruct.
We forget, that learning does not stop at graduation, at marriage, at the birth of a grandchild. We continue to learn about the world, daily, in our interactions with others, in our interactions with ourselves. Moments of powerful importance. Moments that we need be mindful of - moments that need to be brought back into notice.
I was in the store wanting to get something from a shelf that was a few inches out of my reach. It was just one frustration too much. I was angered at everything. At the store for having things out of reach. At me for not being able to reach. I was moments from self pity, moments from a sense of bitterness. Suddenly a young man with a green apron reached up and grabbed the item and handed to me. He smiled a genuine smile and simply said, 'They put things high up so that tall people have a place in the world.' It was such a kind thing to say. Tears came to my eyes and he kindly didn't notice. I said thank you. I hope he noticed that moment like I did. I was learning about the world, he was the instructor. He taught me that kindness was available, that it was OK to rely on the generosity of a stranger.
Me, I want to be alert to these moments. Today at work, just before going to set up for our Christmas tea, I was sitting in my office with Anne from the office next door. We were chatting, about work, about life, about stuff. A woman with a disability who doesn't often speak, who spends much of her life locked inside, came straight into my office and sat down in the other chair. We both stopped. She was interrupting we could have asked her to leave, but it was a moment and it had arrived. She looked at us with intensity and said, 'I made the decision myself. It was a good decision ...' Then she spoke of her decision and what it meant to her. Her eyes were fearful, had she made the right decision, would she be ok. She looked first to me, I said, 'Trust yourself, it was a good decision.' She looked to Anne, who said, 'A really good decision.' Reassured she got up and left. She began to doubt herself, she chose her teachers - thank God we recognized the moment.
I watched a little girl the other day in the mall, she had lost something valuable to her. I gather a small doll of some kind. Her mother had lost patience. She pulled a crying child away saying, 'You've got lots of dolls at home.' Driving along behind, after they had rushed far ahead, I saw the lost doll, lying just out of view, a doll that would have been found in a moments looking. It was a moment that wasn't noticed, it was a moment where learning happened. Where the lesson was well learned.
There is such responsibility in relating to the world, in relating to each other. We teach each other who we are as a society, how we value each other, and we teach the cost of trust. It is my fervent hope that for Christmas I notice and treasure the moments when I am teacher, when the lesson is about hope, or gentleness, or kindness, or understanding, or endurance, or faith.
A baby ...
I do not know what life holds for the wee one I held. I do not know know what pains and torments will come her way. But I do know that there in her very early memories is one of a big guy who tickled her belly, who said soft words to her, who ensured that she was warm and safe. I hope one day when she needs the lesson I had the privilege to teach, it will be there for her.
A moment ...
As I held her I reconnected with what it is to be human, to be part of the community of the world. I reconnected with my responsibility to let my actions teach those within my reach. My responsibility to govern myself in such a manner that respects the power given to me to reassure and to affirm.
It's Christmas Eve so I can hope for a miracle, and I wish for one. I wish for a heart of generosity, eyes that see what's needed, hands that are willing, and a soul that alerts me to 'the moment'. It's a big gift, but I'm guessing that's why Santa has such a big sleigh.
And why God sent such a small baby.