Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
My brother and I drove down to Philadelphia yesterday to go to church at St. Mary’s, Hamilton Village: The Episcopal Church at the University of Pennsylvania.
Our friend Mariclair is the Rector there, and in the year since we had last seen her, she and her husband welcomed a beautiful daughter named Ruby, who is now six months old. Not unlike the three magi, much of our motivation for this trip was centered on seeing this baby for the first time.
To hold a baby is one of the most humbling things in the world. The person in your arms will one day be a content-creator; an activist; a mathematician. The whole universe is inside a baby.
With some concentration, Ruby can pinch and hold things between separate fingers, and not just her whole hand. She even understands object permanence. About a week ago she figured out how to crawl (but resentfully – because she can’t understand why she isn’t walking yet). She’s still in the pre-production stage of language acquisition, but pretty soon she’s going to be telling jokes, expressing her own hopes and dreams, and using her words to make the world a better place.
Babies are living proof of our capacity as human beings to evolve and improve over the course of our lives. They are constantly challenging their own limitations. When Ruby uses the coffee table to stand up, she’s driven by a hunger to break boundaries and do something she’s never done before. That’s inspirational. And the chance to witness this spirit must be least one of the reasons that the three magi set out on the long journey to see baby Jesus, because that alone is surely deserving of a pilgrimage.
image credit: stmarysatpenn.org