This morning my first grandchild was born—a little girl with thick red lips, curious blue eyes, a curly cap of black hair and a surprisingly even temperament that accommodated two sets of grandparents, two uncles and an aunt all hugging, kissing and passing her around within an hour of her appearance in the world.
Everyone in the family is now napping, having had either a sleepless or restless night while the mother (and father) labored towards birth. But I am wide awake and making an effort to record this moment and also to fill this sultry afternoon while I wait to return to see the child. Outside the temperature swelters above 100, then suddenly the clouds open and rain streams down on the earth. Just as suddenly the sun reappears, still a torch in the sky, but it is cooler now.
While everyone sleeps, I turn to the July blog post I’d intended to write today. I’d been collecting scraps of ideas and clippings for two possible directions for this month’s post, both focused on the wider world. One was to respond to a request for participation in a new project, a blog entitled “Drafting a New Story: Women’s Rights in the Middle East.” Another was a post tentatively titled “Imagining Cuba,” where the promised release of 52 dissidents has stirred some hope for an easing of rights in that country though the releases are conditioned on the prisoners leaving Cuba. Still, the first prisoners, many of whom are writers, have made their way to Spain and to freedom. One recently wrote in The New York Times, “I never imagined I would be born at the age of 60, at an altitude of several thousand feet above the Atlantic. That isn’t gibberish; it’s what I felt when I was released from jail in Cuba and exiled to Spain last Monday.”
The birth of a child brings one’s focus intensely close and personal and at the same time extends it outwards, straining towards the universe and the universal, towards the hope for future generations. Birth and rebirth, the ever present possibility of a new story, the ascendency of human potential and freedom—it is a potent and motivating reason to get up each day, to reach out to one’s fellow human beings each day, to put one foot and one word after the other.
This blessing I wish for little Carolina—that is the name I gave my granddaughter when I didn’t know her name because for a while her parents had lived in the Carolinas. (I’ll keep her real name private for her to use.) May she add her even temperament, her balanced judgment, her fairness, her intelligence and her compassion to this sometimes troubled world of ours.
–July 25, 2010