A Native Language (for Junia’s Second Birthday)

isabella-and-zsa-fischer-sQoIRY84a2E-unsplashAnd how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
–Acts 2:8

Once there was the the drip and the drain of her beginning to leave, the harrow of the clatter on the way to the operating room, the latch she formed when I was finally stable enough to hold her, the dry sob of my throat against her scream when she was ten days old and I learned, oh, sometimes they don’t eat or sleep or do anything but cry and there is absolutely nothing you can do— In short, there were no words, no mutually intelligible ones, no useful ones.

Now there is a grammar and a lexicon. Good morning! I love you. Did you have a good rest? Hug, kiss, fist bump? Fist bump! Pwwwsssshhhhh. Yeaaaaahhhh. Let’s— no, don’t peel the elephant— let’s change your diaper and— yes, Papa works at the lab, but not yet, we’ll see him in a minute— PB toast! yes, we can have PB toast for breakfast, let’s have some milk first but wait, let’s change your diaper first, oh now you’re ready for a kiss? Okay, kiss, now let’s change your diaper— It starts as something an adult English-speaking human would recognize and rapidly morphs into an intimate, singsong pidgin.

Pentecost, the birthday of the church, arrived with a violent wind, and with flame. With terror, one must imagine. With light and the power to destroy. And then with translation.

How is it that we hear each other? Because a spirit came among us to give us a new and native language.

Thank God for her, and for another year with her.

Photo credit: Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

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