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Why is holding a baby so joyful and healing? I've had the pleasure twice in the past several days: one a sleeping infant and the other, a feisty five-month old. One a beautiful, angel-faced girl, the other a juicy, sweet-faced tot with loads of dark hair.
When I held my niece for the first time, we just settled in, comfortably. I had forgotten: the peacefulness; the soft, pearlescent skin; small sighs and coos, the unique scent of a baby's head; the moist lips and searching gums, exploring and waiting for mom; how their miniature bodies fit into the crook of your arm. How close they are to perfection. How close they bring one to Spirit.
As I held the younger, I whispered while she was sleeping: "Remind me what it's like." Her calming presence did, indeed. My plea was based on the story I once heard about a toddler peering into the crib of a newborn, asking the same question. The farther we are from birth, the more removed we may seem from God. Often, we need something soft, cuddly and new to remind us – a baby, a kitten or puppy.
A few days ago as my body was silently aching, my 14-year old reached over and began massaging my back – unprovoked. It was such a loving, unexpected gift and reminded me of the healing power of touch. Not dissimilar from holding the babies.
God's touch/reach is never as far as we imagine.
This morning's Henri Nouwen online meditation focused on the loneliness of Christ and the isolation Jesus felt on the cross when he uttered "Why have you forsaken me?"
"Tuesday, July 31, 2012/Jesus' Loneliness
When Jesus came close to his death, he no longer could experience God's presence. He cried out: "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:47). Still in love he held on to the truth that God was with him and said: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (luke 23:46).
The loneliness of the cross led Jesus to the resurrection. As we grow older we are often invited by Jesus to follow him into this loneliness, the loneliness in which God is too close to be experienced by our limited hearts and minds. When this happens, let us pray for the grace to surrender our spirits to God as Jesus did."
While we may need a soft reminder of God's presence, we are assured that Spirit is always with us ... perhaps too close to see, feel or experience, but present nonetheless.
• What does holding a new baby, kitten or puppy touch in me?
• How does that bring me closer to Spirit?
• How have I experienced the power of touch in my life?
• When has God been so close I felt alone?
• How can I hold experiences of Holy closeness when I do forget or can't feel it?
act of gathering
begins it all
perhaps, it starts
at the mere anticipation
of cradling the
perfect in every
a peaceful joy
descends on both,
cloaking the pair
with the very same
that binds human
the gossamer fabric