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A hope note

I love my job. I’m the full-time interim minister for a Presbyterian church. One thing I like most is the location of my office. It’s across the hall from the toddler room of the church’s child development center. I’m thrilled to look through the window several times a day and wave to the tykes and have them smile and wave back, or see them in their high chairs trying to get food on their spoons and transport the food from their plates to their mouths, succeeding almost half the time.
Today the teacher apologized to me: ‘I’m sorry we’ve been so noisy today.’ I smiled and explained that a strong baby’s cry is one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. Then I forced on her my reason why.
For 30 years, I was a hospital chaplain, most of those in a children’s hospital. How many times I stood with parents in the delivery room, at the end of a problem pregnancy, when their baby was born blue and lifeless. But after a minute or two of intensive intervention by dedicated staff, the limp baby yielded a thin cry. That whimper was the most wonderful sound those parents, if they live to be a hundred, will ever hear.
How many times I stood in the emergency room with parents whose toddler had drowned in the neighbor’s swimming pool or whose crib death was interrupted. After what seemed like an eternity of CPR, suddenly from the lifeless body came a strong, guttural squall, and the parents and grandparents and siblings and I waiting outside the trauma room dissolved in tears of joy.
That’s how I got conditioned, like Pavlov’s dogs, to smile when I hear a baby’s cry. It’s the precious sound of life that wants to live.

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