I wrote this a long time ago. Christmas of 2010, to be exact. This was my first attempt at taking myself seriously as a writer. I still love it and have always wanted to share it on my blog. It has been on my mind more recently, of course, because I am watching my LAST baby turn a year old pretty soon. This has been my last chance to introduce one of my own babies to the world and it makes me remember how much I treasured this experience with each of my babies.
The One who knit Claire together and lent her the breath of life has spent this year introducing the wonder-filled world to her. Watching her discover it all has made me appreciate the intricacy and beauty of this world with fresh eyes. For her, everything is new!
Of course, nothing here is actually new. It all goes on like it has from the very beginning. Every child is born into a world already filled with more wonders than he or she could ever witness in a lifetime. It is a world varied beyond imagining, connected beyond coincidence, beautiful beyond comprehension. Every child must discover these wonders one at a time. Nonetheless, the world is new to Claire, and as we’ve watched her discover the wonders of the world, I have often felt like I was watching the creation story found in Genesis unfold before my eyes.
When we brought Claire home, we marveled at the way she would stare intently at the dark and the light. At first, she would blink and sneeze and close her eyes against the brightness. When she would open those bright big brown eyes, she would stare—not at us, not at the complex and perplexing faces of the people who continually looked at her. Her eyes flickered between light and dark, simply sorting out the difference. There was light and there was darkness (Genesis 1:3).
Claire learned the difference between the wet—the diapers that constantly needed changing, the baths that shocked her out of her sleepy daze, the milk that she drank eagerly (and occasionally spit back onto her clothes)—and the dry. Outside, there was snow; inside, there were blankets. There was wet and there was dry.
She learned to distinguish the sun from the moon. The sun watched over her days, days she spent lying on her back, then on her tummy, then rolling, then lurching, then crawling, and now walking. The moon watched over her long, sleepy nights. There was the sun and the moon.
Spring changed the picture outside her window just in time. Claire’s eyes learned to focus on far away objects and her mind made sense of complex shapes and movements just as the leaves on the trees budded and unfurled and began to flip in the wind. We removed the fuzzy layers that had kept her warm but had obstructed her view on our walks. We watched. Suddenly, she looked up to notice all that was alive and moving and colorful. There was vegetation to cover the earth.
Then changes came rapidly. It had taken her weeks to figure out dark and light, but now, suddenly, there were millions of things to see! There were creatures filling her world—those that crawl along the ground, those that walk on four legs, those that swim in the sea, those that fly in the air. She reached out to touch the dogs and the bugs and the birds. She recoiled from the fish, which were, perhaps, still too other-worldly for her. There were creatures, great and small.
Gradually, slowly, Claire became aware of her own body. At first, she surprised herself with her own flailing hands. Her hands learned to reach and to hold on. Her feet learned to kick, to propel, and now, to balance and to walk. Her world grew from two dimensions to three. In the mirror, Claire encountered her whole self. First from a distance and later leaning close, she would examine her own face. There she was, a human, made in the image of her creator.
The world is replete with good and wonderful things. Everything, Claire is realizing, has a name. It has been her habit of late to point to new things and christen them. “Da.” she says, or “Daaa!” or “Da?” or “Dat.” She is naming her world like Adam did, recognizing the usefulness of giving a label to each and every living thing. Soon, we know, she will use these names to request and refuse, to assert her own preferences. I do not want to take for granted that even this stubborn willfulness is a miracle!