“Each time a new baby is born there is a
possibility of reprieve. Each child is a new
being, a potential prophet, a new spiritual
prince, a new spark of light into the outer darkness.”
-R. D. Laing
(One of our office nurses delivered a healthy baby boy a week ago. This is what I wrote to welcome him into this world.)
You must understand that seldom has a child been so warmly anticipated. After years of careful preparation your parents have chosen to bring you into this world under ideal circumstances. Your father has worked long hours to secure your future, and your mother has availed herself of every possible resource to make sure that your transit through our world will be safe and smooth.
I know both of your parents. I checked them out. Your mom used to work with my wife. When I decided that I needed a nurse for my office I took her out to dinner to see if our personalities and our philosophy of life were compatible. After she passed muster, I chose to meet your dad just to be sure that we weren’t going to have trouble with him in the future.
We went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Even though we had told mom that this would be an informal get-together, your dad read right through me. He knew he was being interviewed. And I could tell that he knew; that he had figured me out. Score one for dad.
What I got out of that first encounter: your dad is a very nice man. He has an excellent sense of humor. He works very hard. He knows his job. He wants to do the right thing. Most important, he worships the ground your mom walks on. This will become obvious to you when you first set your eyes on them.
As for your mom… It’s easy. She’s the kindest soul you’ll ever meet. As soon as she opens her eyes every morning (and soon, every night when you get hungry) she asks herself the most basic question: How can I help? Then she goes about filling her day with ways to help others.
This is not just me talking, Peyton. I have more than a thousand patients, and your mom has been helping all of them for years. Not once, not once, has any of them had any complaints about the way she treated them. You have no idea now, but you will someday, of how hard it is to please everyone. I suggest you not even try: it can’t be done. But she pulls it off.
Peyton, I want you to realize how tremendously lucky you are to be born into this family. Your grandparents will worship you from day one; your aunts will want to hold and cuddle you; your adoptive grandpa (that’s me) will be quietly checking things out, behind the scenes, just to satisfy himself that you fulfill your promise.
Today I gave your mom a small statue of Saint Francis. Someone near and dear to me got it for me when they were away on a trip. He mistakenly figured that this was the St. Francis I was named after. Not true. “My” St. Francis was Spanish; this one was Italian.
But you know what? Your first lesson about life: there are no coincidences. It is what it is. I figured that I’d keep this saint tucked away somewhere until time showed me where he belonged. He was not a bad guy. He was raised in wealth. In many ways he was a spoiled brat. Until one day he saw someone poor, one of many poor people that for sure he had run into during his brief life. But this time he understood what it was like to be poor. He went to war, and he understood what pain and needless violence do to wreck our existence.
He went back to his wealthy home, to his parents who would have given him anything, and he walked away. He spent the rest of his existence with nothing; with “nothing” he made life more meaningful for millions upon millions of souls. He even risked his life to try to end a war between Christians and Muslims. He did not succeed, but he earned love and respect from both sides.
I figured that this saint belonged to you. He will help your parents teach you what they know so well. That it’s all about helping out. That all the goods in the world will not redeem you if you don’t serve. That you should forever be so grateful to have this opportunity that is given to you today.
Your saint. Your beautiful family. Your life.
May God bless and keep you always.