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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Faith of a Child...

~ A 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.'

If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. 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.

"Behold the maidservant of the Lord !
Let it be to me according to your word."
Luke 1:38

1 comment:

Lee said...

Very moving...I cried and cried! Some of the people by the homeless shelter just need to know that someone cares! There but for the grace of God go I...
Lee Humphrey