We exchanged a few words with the little miss's mom who was busily enjoying her food while keeping one eye on her baby and smiling at everyone who passed and took note of the little charmer. Babies have a way of doing that, you know. Without even trying, they somehow manage to capture people's attention and melt hearts just a little.
If you've ever had a baby of your own, you know the phenomenon of suddenly attracting attention wherever you go. At the grocery store, the restaurant, the church, the parking lot, you name it; wherever you go you are showered with smiles and comments and attention. People who would have never given you a second look otherwise, suddenly smile at you with warmth in their eyes and stop to hold your door or pick up the quarter you dropped. I remember an occasion where we were having lunch with friends at a restaurant, along with our three young children. The baby, especially, was drawing lots of attention. As a friendly lady paused beside our table to inquire and gush over each child's name, our friend spoke up mischievously, "My name is Billy!" Somehow no one had thought to ask him.
Babies seem to bring out the best in everyone, from children to old, weathered men. I remember another occasion when our oldest was small and upon leaving a restaurant, we discovered our bill had been paid by some kind gentleman who had admired our sweet, little boy.
A while back I began noticing the reactions to this child at our church. From the young girls who fight for the chance to hold every baby in sight; to the mothers, busy with young ones of their own; to the husbands like mine who think the cutest child is their own; to the older men, who rarely hold a baby since their own are grown, the reactions are all the same -- complete and total adoration.
I've seen grown men ask to hold her during church; all manner of faces and contortions to coax a smile; softened eyes and gentle smiles every time.
This particular baby is the foster child of our pastor and his wife. It's as if the heartbreaking reality of all the brokenness in this world shines forth from that one sweet, little face and all of us soften and step forward to somehow ease the ache. That such purity and innocence should encounter the harshness of humanity is almost more than anyone with a heart can bear. The very sight of her prompts us all to pour forth the love we so long to see heal this broken world. On more than one occasion, as I've watched some grown man trying to coax a smile during church or noticed a grandpa jiggling her on his knee, I've felt a quick lump in my throat and blinked back a tear.
In this Christmas season, as the story of the Messiah's coming is told and retold in the programs and carols and sermons, my mind keeps going to that sweet baby at our church. Remembering the way she has captured our hearts and affection, one question keeps repeating itself in my mind.
Is it any wonder Jesus was sent to us as a baby?