by Tricia Gates Brown

baby-handHolding a friend’s newborn, a sacred ritual becomes more sacred. Marco’s mother rises to exit the sanctuary and fetch a bottle, baby crying, and I gladly offer my services. Settling into my arms, he chugs, and sated, sleeps. All I have to do is bounce and smile and admire his fresh-off-the-shelf beauty: tiny lips iced with milk, a sweep of thick hair, dark eyelashes resting on his cheeks like boughs on a winter mantle. As congregants gather around the altar for Eucharist, I sway to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” exquisitely picked on a guitar. And when they come my way, I lean to accept the wafer and the wine, before the vicar thumbs a blessing on Marco’s tiny new head.

These days, I am unjaded. All the lustrous, lurid, mystifying moments leave their stamp on a newly tendered heart. On a highway, I pass a wooden cross pounded into the gravel of the median and draped with bike helmets, and tears. On NPR, I hear Syrian refugees who’ve lost children along the road, and tears. I see enormous sweeps of rain drift across mountains, tears; admire the dark skeletons of oaks burdened with bursts of mistletoe, and am moved by their dramatic beauty. I pass the horse I visit not enough, see her alone in a frigid downpour as I hurry past, and the squeeze of regret kneads my heart. When I do finally stop, I look into her eyes and my eyes overflow. … read the rest here.