This week, I got to spend time with a two-month-young baby. At lunch with her parents, I asked and was handed her like a gift and got to walk around with her to the oohs and aahs of the restaurant owner and servers. Her mother said she likes to bounce, so I did that gentle bounce thing one does with babies; and then as I stood still with little Susan, just 60+ days old (gently bouncing her up and down still) and as I watched her become mesmerized by the sparkling golden Christmas ornaments and Christmas tree lights, I stopped bouncing and she stopped bouncing with me as I got that special I’m-holding-a-baby-feeling that comes with witnessing the miracle of new life. She became wholly still before those awesome Christmas tree lights and the ways they shone in the sparkling golden ornaments, while I became wholly still inside and out before that yet-again awesome realization that a baby comes to earth trailing God dust.
That is what Emmanuel is all about. God is with us.
I held little Susan and realized not for the first time how dependent babies are on someone to take care of them and not to drop them, neither literally nor figuratively. Yet God came to earth that vulnerable?
So, having recently held a precious baby; having felt the joy of soul that comes in this very simple, very profound act; and having considered in the stillness of my heart that the God of Compassion sent not a legion of soldiers nor a famously eloquent orator to deliver the divine message of love to us, but the smallest and most helpless earthly miracle possible, a little baby, the devotional this morning in A Little Daily Wisdommeant a great deal to me:
Get up, open your eyes, and pattern your life after the unlimited goodness and love God has shown to all creatures. Then you’ll know perfect joy of soul, and you won’t be so small-hearted that you have no room either for yourself or your neighbors. Don’t forget that the Holy Spirit’s law is amazingly different from ours. Imitate Saint Paul, who was completely in love with God. Be a servant of affection who bears and proclaims the name of Jesus. Saint Paul looked into this Eye and lost himself in it. He was given such a joyful soul that he was willing to be an outcast for the sake of his brothers and sisters. Above all, the Apostle Paul was in love with whatever God was in love with.
Carmen Acevedo Butcher is a professor of English and scholar-in-residence at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. She was the Carnegie Foundation professor of the year for Georgia in 2006, and during the 2004-2005 year she and her family lived and learned in Seoul, South Korea, while she taught as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Sogang University. She has written books on medieval women mystics and linguistics. More information can be found on these at her website. (Photo credit: Katherine Butcher.)
Our Christmas card photo unnerved me this year. Our two young daughters in burgundy and raspberry velvet dresses, my husband in a brownish jacket, me in a dark chambray dress with a cabled sweater and a red-beaded necklace...