That First Gaze

When my first grandchild was born we had planned to be at the birth.  We were awakened by the call that she was in labor very early on a midsummer morning, and, filled with apprehension and anticipation, we made the six hour journey to the town where she was living.

We came into the hospital room to find our daughter sitting up in bed, surrounded by family and friends, chatting.  Everyone looked a bit bedraggled and tired.   We rushed toward her with questions like, “How close are the labor pains?” and “Is your doctor here already?”

She kept replying with the same short sentence, “It’s over.”  But it took us awhile to understand that the baby had already been born and that he was in the nursery.

When my second grandchild was born we again rushed to be with our daughter at the birth.  We only lived 150 miles from this child, and we were certain we would be able to get there in time to help and support her.  We got the call midmorning and scrambled to finish what we had been doing and take off.  The ubiquitous road construction slowed us down, but we still made it to the hospital in under three hours.

This time we missed the birth by moments.  We were in time to hear about the ordeal and to be comforting and supportive.  And we could help with all the questions and worries —  and watch and get in the way while our granddaughter learned to nurse.

In each case what I remember most, of course, is the child.  Our grandson was handed to us wrapped in a soft, little white blanket, his tiny hands fisting in a way that took my breath away.  He opened his eyes and looked at me, and I knew I would do anything for this little soul.

Our granddaughter had not yet been taken to be cleaned up when we arrived, and she still had a pointy head from her journey through the birth canal.  As with our grandson, I was awed when she was placed in my arms.  She studied me with wonder, and I immediately became her slave.

The pilgrimage the Easterners made to see the Christ child must have culminated in awe like this.  He would have been older by the time they arrived at his door.  And he would have been ordinary, just one of many small children, a foreigner to these travelers, and the son of a carpenter.

But imagine looking into his eyes.  His gaze would have held all the wonder of heaven, all the glory of God.

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