I remember Ellie's blanket made earlier that day. It is of yellow flannel, popsicle sticks and multi colored pom-pom balls. I have never seen a more beautiful gift from a more adoring heart. Ellie insists on laying it over Benjamin at every opportunity.
Now my mind slips back to shopping at Aldi's a few days before with Benjamin in front of me in the cart and Ellie traipsing along nearby, nearly bounding about the store in her efforts to be a good helper.
We slowly make our way through the many shoppers and I notice an Amish family come in. Incredibly cute little ones gaze shyly at Ellie with adorable kitten like brown eyes as we pass.
Their busy mother speaks a soft agitated word correcting a child. She sounds just like a mother I know on a busy day at the store. My heart wishes I could connect, yet know our cultures and ways of life are so far apart. I smile kindly and work around them to the next aisle.
Benjamin catches my eye as he is now awake. His still nearly newborn eyes sparkle with a deep piercing blue wetness. Right now they seem to see into my soul and suddenly he smiles up at me, as if to say I am his morning sun and it has just come out. The joy emanating from him stops me in my tracks and I lean over the cart to somehow give him back as much as he has just given me.
Some days it is hard to keep up with his joy. How can he know that the world is a fallen, horrible place, where spurts of peace and happiness are followed by seasons of grievous heartache, where one must fight hard to be thankful, happy, or to just function and keep all the wheels turning. I have noticed that when agitation overtakes me, my baby seems to get a furrowed brow and small whimpers start. Is it just my imagination?
I straighten my shoulders, ignore the pain at times in my heart, and smile and coo over him.
Back in Aldi's I check out with Ellie's almost uncontainable energetic helping hands. Benjamin has started wailing, his high pitched, insistent, everyone-in-the-store can hear it, cry. I have to ignore it and get this job done. I am used to having to do this, but the shoppers around me are not. I can't wait to hold my little boy, but Ellie and I focus on bagging up our groceries.
"Do you need some help?" A lady with long brown hair and a kind smile is at my side. I hesitate. In a former life of not wanting to be an imposition, I would have smiled back and said all was well.
Now I am touched at someone reaching out. Even if I don't need help, I will think of something. I ask her if she could hold Benjamin, and gently lay him in her arms. She coos over him and listens to Ellie's nonstop conversation good naturedly.
I finish bagging the last food items and look up to see the Amish mother smiling at me. I smile back.
A moment has been shared across busy lives and worlds of cultural differences. I take Benjamin tuck blankets around him, happy now, into his carseat for the ride home.
Back in my easy chair it is 3:30 in the morning. I soak in the baby-ness that is one with the rise and fall of my chest.
I cling to that joy, pray harder, and let the memory of Benjamin's smiles wash over me like a loving touch from the hand of God. Surely only He can be the author of such intense beauty, or be the creator of little girls who lovingly lay yellow popsicle blankets over their little brothers.
Thank you, Lord.
Below: More pictures of JOY.