Chaplain's Message from the November 2011 issue of "Akarui Mado (Bright Window)", the hospital's staff-oriented newsletter.
Before I became a father, I really didn't pay much attention to babies. I had never really spent much time around them, actually. Guys don't usually spend hours fawning over the newborn children of their friends.
I thought babies were cute, sure. Like puppies or harp seals or those Kobito Zukan (gnome) characters. Cute, but not all that interesting. And I figured, in the end, their cuteness was probably outweighed by stinky diapers and sleep deprivation and endless screaming.
But then my first child was born, and I got to spend time with a baby for the first time. I got to hold him, and rock him to sleep, and give him the bottle, and listen to his little breathing sounds. I got to let him sleep on my chest. He rode on my shoulders.
And I had to change lots of diapers and lose sleep and put up with screaming. But I didn't mind so much.
I discovered that this baby was fascinating. That all babies are fascinating. They are little mysteries. They never get boring.
But babies grow up and become Little People. Still fun to be with, to be sure, but not nearly so mysterious.
Recently I got the chance to hold my friend's seven-month-old daughter at a church festival. She was very calm, not nervous around strangers at all. She was content to let me hold her and walk around.
(I went around introducing this very Asian-looking little girl as my daughter—"She takes after me, don't you think?" and enjoyed seeing the confused look on people's faces.)
One of the things I find so interesting about babies is their utter acceptance of reality, and their total trust in their parents.
Later in life, we start trying to change our environment. Younger children try to use words like magic to change things. "That WASN'T the last strawberry! It WASN'T! There's more!" I takes them a while to discover that that doesn't work, but when they do, they start learning to influence people in other ways, with begging, threats, pressure, argument, the exchange of favors.
In fact, they're no different from grownups. It's just that grownups get more skilled in these tactics.
And children also learn to doubt their parents, because sometimes our parents do what we want, and sometimes they do what's best for us, even when it's not what we want.
Anyway, we learn to see our environment as something changeable, and we learn to see the people around us as at least somewhat untrustworthy.
But what I wonder is, do we lose something important in this learning process?
It seems to me that babies are born with a certain kind of knowing--not knowledge, or information, or rational conclusions, but a kind of direct intuition.
Knowing, for example, that there is Someone greater than us, Someone on whom our life depends--and realizing that this Someone knew us before we knew Him, and called us by name before we even knew we had names
Knowing that when we cry out for help or comfort, our cry will never go unheard.
Knowing that whatever comes up in life, in the end, all will be well. We may taste pain, or hunger, or fear, or sadness, or loneliness, or separation, for a time, but finally, all will be well. We will never be abandoned.
Sometimes when I have the rare opportunity to hold a baby, I wonder, have I lost sight of something important in the process of growing up. And I think, can I get it back somehow?