Joanna Adams: Tenderness


Welcome, royal baby! I know that British royalty is really old school, but let's face it:  the July 22nd arrival of Kate and William's first born has reawakened tenderness in the hearts of millions of people around the world.

Most of us love babies. Whether we are parents ourselves or not, there is something about the sight of a newborn's tiny fingers and the feel of those soft little toes that makes us smile.

The arrival of new human life into the world can turn even the most sophisticated among us into unembarrassed coo-ers and baby talkers.  Every child that is born represents a new beginning, a freshness, a sign of the tenacity of life itself.

The poet Carl Sandburg put it this way, "A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."

May I recommend to you a movie that came out in 2010?

Entitled "Babies," the film follows four babies from four different places in the world (Japan, the United States, Mongolia, and Namibia) from the time they are born until they take their first steps and say their first words. The winner in the first word department is the Mongolian baby who stands on the window sill of the yurt his family lives in yelling, "Mama, mama, mama. . ." as loud as he can across the tundra. The babies in the movie awakened in me a sense of deep down joy.  Babies can do that. They can also break your heart.

Some years ago, I traveled to The Republic of Congo, then called Zaire. In one of the mission hospitals our group visited, I met a very small boy who was close to the end of his life. He had been brought to the hospital too late to reverse the ravages of starvation.  I leaned over his bed, touched his head, said a blessing then turned to leave.

Over my shoulder, I heard his fragile little voice speak to me. "Moiyo," he said. "Moiyo" is a common greeting in the Tshiluba dialect of the region. It means, "I wish you life."  These were likely the last words he ever spoke.

May the birth of the royal baby remind us that all babies are royalty in the eyes of God.  May we resolve to do all we can to end suffering and stop starvation around the world and to end hunger and malnutrition in our own state and our own city.  Atlanta has the fifth highest rate among our nation's largest cities of children living in concentrated poverty.  Georgia is 46th among states in the percentage of children born with low birth weight.

Can't we do better by our babies and children?  I believe we can. There is no end to the good the power of tenderness can do.

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