Fill in the blank.
Pick your worst enemy – Hitler, Pol Pot, the postal worker who loses your mail – and consider: This man was once an infant, probably cradled and nursed lovingly by a mother who never dreamed her tiny baby would grow up and become a dictator/monster/evil mail carrier.
I look at my newborn son and think, if I could look with love on everyone I meet with the same tenderness and compassion, the same lack of fear and defensiveness, how much my relationships would change.
There was a girl in my grad school whose work I didn’t like very much but who wrote a line I recall almost daily: “All of us were babies in the beginning.”
I’m also reminded of the scene in the movie Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby where the Will Farrell character leads his family in a dinner prayer to “Baby Jesus.” His wife gets irked because Jesus grew up, but the character says something like, “I like Baby Jesus the best, so that’s who I’m going to pray to.”
This links back to a post I wrote at Christmas – the story of the newborn child is something that can connect to and soften all of our hearts.
Try it next time you’re confronted with someone who is irritating, frustrating, even angering you – your grown child, your irksome neighbor, the jerk at the cash register – imagine him or her as a tiny baby with a fuzzy bald head – clueless, cute, harmless. See this person as a whole person. For love to be the transforming agent religion purports it to be, it must be practiced in how we see and treat each other, especially those who we think don’t deserve it. We all start out deserving love. We all need it.
And for those of you who don’t like babies, you can imagine him or her as an aged person, at the other end of the spectrum. ..