A little early and with limited fanfare, we had another addition to the family last week.
Caroline Louise made her debut, cute as a button and a testament to God’s hope for the future.
She brings our grandchild count to 12. I thought there might be some significance to that, as 12 is a biblical symbol of fullness or completion.
There were 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 gates to enter the New Jerusalem of Revelation.
But 12 is also the number of months in the year, the hours in meridian time, and the animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
It is a symbol of cosmic order, and I sincerely doubt that one more grandchild is going to bring tidiness and harmony to the lively chaos the other 11 inevitably create when they are together.
One of those 11 is Caroline’s 21-month-old sister. Elizabeth was at daycare when Caroline arrived.
Dad e-mailed a picture of the newborn to the babysitter, who printed it and gave it to Elizabeth. She explained that the photo was the baby who had come out of Mommy’s tummy.
A little later, we get a photo the sitter sent back to Dad. Our fair-haired toddler was holding the snapshot of her baby sister in her hands, pressing her face against it as if she were giving a big hug.
On the heels of the first came another photo taken at snack time. Elizabeth was sitting at a small table, a broken graham cracker in front of her. She had a piece of that cracker in her hand, trying to feed it to the picture of her sister now laying on the table.
Those photos were adorable, maybe even to someone who’s not a grandfather strutting in the afterglow of an offspring’s birth.
The more I looked at them, though, the more I found that they captured something not only charming but precious.
Elizabeth was prepared to welcome a stranger. Caroline’s picture could have been of any random newborn — girl or boy, chubby or slight, bushy or bald, black, white, brown or whatever.
It would not have mattered. Elizabeth’s tenderness and delight would have been the same.
In that, there was nothing special about our granddaughter. Most tots would probably do the same. The question, though, is what happens to that love, that embracing acceptance, that body-blind care.
Every hate hawker and mass shooter was once just as innocent and affectionate as Elizabeth.
Where did we go wrong?