Newborns are fierce, wild creatures of the wood. They come out judging society and condemning injustice. I did not realize this until a month ago, when I met my nephew.
It was his face I had longed to behold, and now I beheld it. I knew his face, in particular his eyes, would be my means to knowing him and loving him. So often, it is the unspoken glance from one to another that bridges our inner isolation and gives birth to friendship. The expression of the face communicates to another the thought of the soul, opening the way to that profound sense of understanding that always leads to love.
But this face, his face, asked for nothing. It was complete, whole on its own, fathomless in that it spoke of an internal wholeness that required no friendship for completion. I stood in awe of this face, gazing upon it, pondering its depth, and watching as a furrow covered the prominent brow and a look of repugnance overwhelmed his tiny person. I wondered what was in that mind, what profound thought was figured upon that tiny infant’s body.
His mouth puckered, the bottom lip tucking itself inward most sweetly, and then again his face spread into an open-mouthed, deep-set scowl, which struck me as wondrously fierce and virile. “He’s rooting.” explained his father. “The little one’s hungry.” “Already!” exclaimed his mother. “He’s a champ.” said my mom.
I marveled at the assurance and familiarity with which they interpreted the inner workings of this awesome creature. Hunger seemed hardly worthy of that mighty frown and furrowed brow, but I was relieved that such dissatisfaction on his part could be answered on our part by such a simple thing as food.
When I reflected on what a new sensation hunger was for him, I ceased to wonder at the reason for his scowl. For nine months, hunger and food had been simultaneous for him. Now he had arrived to a world where the two were separate. Need did not necessarily follow want, and one must wail to be fulfilled. Indeed, this was a crime I deemed well worth frowning upon.
Yet how completely and instantly the crime was forgiven and forgotten, as his mother, swaddling that outraged little creature against herself, sent him into the bliss of milky peace and love.
My nephew grows most beautifully. His fingers are now sturdy little things that grip onto my finger. His knees are dimpled, and his legs kick most exuberantly up and down upon the changing table. Most importantly, he now knows how to affectively communicate himself to the world. His face breaks into a terrible scowl, and he utters such piteous wails as to make food nearly simultaneous with hunger.
What has given me the most pleasure as I watch my nephew grow is the awakening of his soul to the souls of those who love him. The curious, wondering look in his face reflects a mind working hard to communicate with the world. His eyes cautiously peer into my face before falling back into the safety of slumber. The sly beginnings of a smile play upon his face as he kicks upon the changing table. His world, which has proven itself worthy of his trust, is enticing him outwards, coaxing his clear eyes to open, that eye may meet eye and love may flow between.
Arriving two Mondays ago for our usual visit, my mom and I were greeted by my sister, who stood before the door looking at us with half-closed eyes. She was still in pajamas, and her glasses were missing. In her arms was her child, wearing the brown hat I’d knit him. She spoke with a groggy voice; “he’s been awake half the night and hasn’t slept since six this morning.” She had reason to be grouchy, but a joyful little giggle ended her speech, such as mothers cannot help expressing amidst their toils. I looked down at the subject of that speech—my nephew. He was lying flat within my sisters arms, apparently oblivious of his visitors. His mouth was agape, and his eyes were wide open. He was gazing straight upwards in awe and rapture at his mother’s face.