Thursday, October 26, 2006

The big wide world

Yesterday Gabriel’s cousin Dominic made his long-awaited entry into the outside world, and seems to be healthy and content! Praise God! We visited his happy mom and dad at the hospital and met the new little one, the fourth grandchild on Michael’s side. There are three little boys now...I’m having visions of even more rambunctious family gatherings in the not-to-distant future...!

Seeing Dominic made me realize how much Gabriel has grown in only 9 weeks. I don’t think I knew how new and scary the outside world must be for a newborn until I saw the contrast between the two of them. Dominic preferred to stay peacefully swaddled in his mother’s arms, peeking his eyes open only a couple times, and woke up only once with some big cries–it turned out to fill his diaper for one of the first times! Gabriel, on the other hand, has in the past two weeks all of a sudden begun to discover–and be truly delighted by– a lot of the outside world. He smiles constantly when new people talk especially to him, and has discovered many of the dangly toys we have on mobiles above his chair and changing table. He spend a whole 40 minutes the other day staring at, and grabbing, a purple butterfly toy while I made dinner! Usually I have to carry him the whole time which makes chopping stuff a rather complicated ordeal. When I do carry him in the sling, he now loves to “face out” towards the world– smelling what I’m cooking, watching us eat when he sits on our laps at the table, feeling how warm the laundry is as I fold it, watching Daddy play the piano, etc. The photo I included is of his first “facing out” ride in the sling.

Fr. Thomas Dubay, in his Prayer Primer, reflects that “if we are vibrantly alive to reality, we learn that there is no end to what can and should trigger awe, wonder, praise, thanksgiving, and love.” I began to learn a couple years ago in the midst of Wisconsin cornfields and expansive blue skies what it means to move from awe and wonder to praise, thanksgiving, and love. Sharing daily life with a baby who is awakening to the world around him reminds me that so much of what I experience should inspire wonder and lead me to thanksgiving and love–the citrusy-cilantro smell of the soup I made for dinner, the peace of the morning when Gabriel takes his first nap and I have time to pray and read, the forgiveness of my husband when I’ve been extra-difficult. More on wonder later, though, because it has been a growing theme in my life and my studies during the past couple years.

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