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On the Corner

BY ROBERT DOCTER – 

I like to tell you about personal things–my thoughts and feelings–my worries and concerns –my joy and my sorrow. When I tell you about these things I feel more connected to you–like we’re all part of the same big family. Anyway, here goes.

I am in awe at the non-linear nature of love

Our family recently welcomed Isabel Diane Studt to be a full-fledged voting member and 100% participant in family affairs. Her parents, Mary and Eric, gave us our eleventh grandchild. She is a beautiful brunette with gorgeous dark eyes, soft creamy skin, a massive sucking reflex and an innate sense of worth that allows her to make her needs known.

As my heart fills with love for this infant I realize that in loving her with all of me, I am not required to subtract any love from others. The supply is never consumed. The more I give away, the more I have. It’s super-saturated. As I become filled even more with that indefinable substance of love, I sense reciprocity from Isabel and this changes me in unexplainable ways. Each adds to each and gives in return.

Isabel was born on the same day as her great-aunt, one of my favorite people in the world. Somehow, I hope Isabel Diane picks up some of the same characteristics as her Aunt Shirley–always cheerful, always kind, always thinking of others, always working, always there when needed, always learning, always self-sacrificing, never cruel or hostile, never demeaning, never afraid to make her views known. I’m happy she shares a birth date with Isabel.

As you might guess, her grandmother’s name is Diane–the most beautiful name in the world. She’s from the same generation as Shirley, and they share many of the same characteristics. Is all that altruism I see in these two women still around? Is it available still for the next generation? It’s not a usable commodity, is it? I guess my father modeled well for my brother and me how to pick wives. Somehow, I believe Shirley and Diane have transmitted to all around them the contagion of a selfless, giving spirit.

I was in the birthing room shortly after the event along with Diane and our daughter, Julie. The room didn’t look anything at all like a hospital room except for the electronic gadgets monitoring everything. Isabel was doing what she likes best–eating, and when she was finished, Diane and Julie got to hold her. Then, suddenly, she was in my arms. I’ve had the experience many times, but I always seem unprepared. I looked down at her face, and a feeling of immeasurable joy washed over me with such intensity it was almost painful. Tears filled my eyes and something like warm, soft Jell-O filled my throat. Breathing was difficult, and I simply said “Thank you”–knowing God knew I was talking to him.

How does love expand so remarkably? How is it that it’s so limitless? How in the world does God spread his love around to everyone–and do it so well–so evenly–always seeming to have just the appropriate intervention at exactly the right time? How does he do it? I don’t know, but I know it happens. I feel it.

Maybe that’s where the spark begins. Maybe that’s what lights the fire in my heart, the choke in my throat, the tear in my eye. God puts love there because he loves us so much. What we feel is the reciprocal process of his loving us, which we, then, can share with those around us.

I think Isabel’s 5-year-old brother, Gabriel, is beginning to experience this. At the first meal as the family gathered for dinner with Isabel in her bassinet, Gabriel volunteered to say grace. He recited the usual four line poem children often say–and then he paused and said: “…and thank you for Isabel–please–let no harm come to her.”

Wow–more tears. Life goes on–and it’s for the living. Its energy is altruism. Its substance is that inexplicable quality of love. You only have it when you give it away.

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