Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baby Hugs... an emailed story to share

A very good friend forwarded the story below to me this morning. It struck a chord with me since Emily does the very same thing as the little boy in the story. More often than not, our adventures happen in the grocery store where we love to shop together.

Shopping with Emily is still one of my favorite things to do with her. Although she's growing fast, at the time being, she still fits in the front seat of the shopping carts and we talk and play all the way through the store. She doesn't beg for things off the shelves. She doesn't squirm or cause problems. She loves to ask, "What is that?" and when I tell her we need to find something, she puts her hands under her chin, scrunches her face up and responds with, "Hmmmmmm" like she's really trying to figure out where things are. She loves to read letters off of signs and labels and loves to mimic the expressions of the kids and people on the boxes and advertisements in the stores. And, for at least the past year, Emily loves to wave and say "hi" to random strangers as they walk past us. Many times they don't hear her and she'll try again. More often than not, her "hi's" are returned with a twinkle in the eye and a broad smile and a wave. It's amazing how a little 2 year old girl can change a person's entire demeanor by simply saying, "hi". And, it is truly humbling how my reaction to some of those same people changes when my daughter opens the door for a conversation with them. God is already using this little girl to do ministry and to help her parents reach out to others.

I hope you enjoy the story below and that it touches you as much as it did me.

-jenni

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Baby's Hug

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'

Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children.'

Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.

(**After originally posting this, a new internet friend named Ellen shared the following information: "This was written by Nancy L. Dahlberg and published in at least two of William Baush's books. This is (a) stolen and (b) changed. It properly ends at "My God, my God, forgive me" other sentences are changed as well. "

I did some internet research of my own and did not find any information showing that Nancy L. Dahlberg wrote this. If she did, my apologies and I am all for giving credit where credit is due. It is still a very touching piece and I choose to leave it on my blog in hopes that it might change someone's actions especially during this holiday season.)

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I went looking for this story today and am furious that it is uncited all over the place. This was written by Nancy L. Dahlberg and published in at least two of William Baush's books. This is (a) stolen and (b) changed. It properly ends at "My God, my God, forgive me" other sentences are changed as well. Nancy L. Dahlberg is an ordained Christian minister and deserves to have her work properly cited and shared in it's original form, or if not, noted as changed. You may have received it as an anonymous email, but someone has actually plagiarized this.

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