Wednesday, September 08, 2010

And Now Cometh Ayla

Big Sister Ashley welcomes
Ayla to her world.

I'm sure that most people who know me at all are aware that I am rather fond of my granddaughter Ashley. She is now well on her way to her third birthday and she has brought into my life unimagined love, heartfelt hope, and even a dash of redemption.

In this blog I have from time to time ruminated about this little girl's impact on my life, beginning with an extraordinary 2 1/2 months when I cared for her five days a week while her mom fulfilled a teaching contract. Ashley taught me so much without knowing it. One day I will tell her.  (Some of  what one might call the Chronicles of Ashley and Papa are posted here. Just enter the word "Ashley" in the Search This Blog box in the upper right corner.)

It would be fair to say that she has caused me to look at all manner of things--social justice, politics, humor, faith, family, even baseball--through a prism that persistently weaves her image into the fabric of my being. In a post a while back I wrote, "Her presence in my life has been transforming because it has placed a human face on the future." Rereading them recently, the words struck me much more powerfully than when I first penned them. Perhaps that is because I'm very worried about the future these days.

Blessed to have Lyda as her mom

All of this is to set the table for the arrival of Ashley's sister, Ayla Joyce McMurray, at 4:06 am on August 12, 2010.  She showed up a couple of weeks earlier than expected, but was a healthy 6 pounds, 15 ounces stretched beautifully over a 19 1/2 inch frame.

It's always a bit tough to join a family where the older sibling has been the center of the universe. I wouldn't know; I was the first born and I'm sure my sister, to whom I just sent a draft copy of this post, never experienced any problems like that.  (Hmmm! My phone is ringing and my caller ID says she's on the line. I think I'll take it later.)

But I'll tell you this, Brian and Lyda did an extraordinary job of preparing Her Royal Highness for the role of Big Sister. There are many stories to tell and we'll perhaps do that one day. I don't want to turn this blog from its usual hard-hitting social commentary to maudlin bragging about one's kids and grandkids. But just this once, dear reader, please humor me.
Brian is a terrific dad.  We love it.
Without question the presence of Ashley and the arrival of Ayla embody that slice of life that is good and true. Without them I can't imagine how I could cope with my anger as well as my fears about our world and especially this country.  I keep reminding myself about the "human face on the future," but many other faces I am seeing are hateful, mean-spirited, ignorant, and deluded.

So-called tea party activists find it humorous to put President Obama's image on a poster with his face crafted into a likeness of Adolph Hitler. A clueless pastor of a tiny "Christian" church announces a public burning of the Koran and then finds himself atop the 24/7 news cycle. Never mind that such actions in the past have prompted international protest that led to riots, fanatical bombings, and infringement of human liberties around the world. The promise that many Americans embraced two years ago has stalled and soured in ways that break my heart. The Democrats must take their share of the blame, but the Republican tactics of demon-making, policy-blocking, and fear-mongering are unprecedented in my lifetime. And I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday.

And so to Ayla and her big sister Ashley, I give you this broken country and invite you to love it. I hold before you those whose fear has turned to hate, and ask you to hug them. I point to those who are lonely or hungry or hurting and pray that you will welcome them with a smile when you meet them.

Some may consider me delusional, but when I look into a mirror each day I see the faces of Ashley, and now Ayla as well. For those of us who worry about the future that's a good thing.