Life can be a pretty dreary thing at times: wake up too early, work, exercise, eat, run errands, yadda, yadda, yadda. Joyful moments are rarer than I would like, and sometimes the dreariness seems to overshadow them completely.
A week ago, my sister gave birth to her fourth child and first daughter, and a joyful vista opened up again. This photo of my six year-old nephew cradling his baby sister expresses the happiness of that moment better than words ever could.
Within minutes of being born, the baby was whisked off to intensive care. Two or three times in quick succession, she turned slightly blue and stopping breathing. It was a frightening and tense time. So that my brother-in-law could stay at the hospital, my parents drove to the hospital, picked up the older kids, drove them home, put them to bed, and woke up several times in the middle of the night to check my oldest (type 1 diabetic) nephew's blood sugar. My father drove the kids to school and packed their lunches. Neighbors watched the house. Church members brought meals for days--the family was even double-booked on a couple of nights. Support and prayers poured in from friends and family on Facebook, by phone, and by email.
Their family would no doubt have survived without outside help. My brother-in-law would have had to leave the hospital and take care of the kids on his own, my sister could have looked after the baby in the hospital, and they would have made it through without messages of comfort and support. But what a bleaker, sadder world that would have been! I don't know precisely what it is that we are made of that makes us yearn for contact with one another, but I am heartened by the goodness in other people and by the compassion that moves them to reach out. This is the stuff of minor miracles: just when life began to seem too dismal, I found unexpected joy in the mysterious warmth of human connections.