“The essential rectitude of our view of children lies in the fact that we feel them and their ways to be supernatural while, for some mysterious reason, we do not feel ourselves or our own ways to be supernatural. The very smallness of children makes it possible to regard them as marvels; we seem to be dealing with a new race, only to be seen through a microscope.
I doubt if anyone of any tenderness or imagination can see the hand of a child and not be a little frightened of it. It is awful to think of the essential human energy moving so tiny a thing; it is like imagining that human nature could live in the wing of a butterfly or the leaf of a tree. When we look upon lives so human and yet so small, we feel as if we ourselves were enlarged to an embarrassing bigness of stature. We feel the same kind of obligation to these creatures that a deity might feel if he had created something that he could not understand.”
We always seem to have a baby or two in our parish at any given time, but in the last couple of years we have lots. It’s a joy to see them growing up through their first year: First they come in a sling or pack on their mother’s chest. After a while, they are sort of “free floating,” carried about by their godparents or friends for admiration and greeting. In Orthodox churches it’s traditional to stand during services, and in my parish we have no pews, so babies often crawl or sit on the floor looking up and around at the tall people; older children like to sit down beside them and engage in silent conversations with their eyes.
Then, surprise — one Sunday the baby will be up on its feet and toddling, and his father probably is following at a short distance, to make sure he doesn’t toddle right up into the altar. My goddaughter Mary, who was born just before my husband died, is now a big girl, and it’s been a while since I could carry her. These days we sometimes go about hand in hand, which is good, because if it came to a chase I would lose that race.
Today during Divine Liturgy I was happy to notice for a few minutes a particular child who has the most beautiful face I have ever seen on a baby. Her temperament, by all accounts, and by what I have seen, is serene. She toddled very near me as I stood near the north wall, and I bent down to whisper “Good morning.” Later after plopping on the floor by her grandmother’s feet, she turned around and gave me a little wave with her tiny hand.