John and Stephanie have grown immeasurably because of her presence. As parents, they sense on the deepest level what a sacred gift children are.
Stephanie says to me, amazed, "I never knew before my Spartan (she's Greek!) Octavia what it meant to be a mother! I never knew how amazing motherhood is!"
John says "My precious Octavia is the one who has helped me the most to heal after my brother's death." I remember how the birth of my son Peter helped our family heal after the death of my father. The gift of new life after death reminds us how fragile and irreplaceable life is, and that the sacred life cycle is always death followed by new life.
Octavia's photos are the only ones my ninety-nine year old mother wants to see. And my mother, in a nursing home because of advanced dementia and rarely able to speak a coherent sentence, will reach to hold my phone, peering at Octavia's smiling face, and coo, enraptured, "She's so precious!"
Octavia, I think, reminds my Mom of those wonderful days when her adult children were babies, and I rejoice that Octavia gives this aged, suffering woman such great joy.
Children so often, because of their smiling innocence, bring us peace, joy, and healing, and seem to work wonders far beyond what we can conceive of or expect. The birth of another of my grand-daughters brought a relative of mine to unexpectedly reconcile with me because she wanted to see and know the new baby in the family.
Is it any wonder, then, that the prophet Isaiah wrote (11:6) "Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them."
Children have the capacity to change us forever if we let them into our lives. They bring us out of our narrowness into deeper sacrificial love. And, for me, it's totally understandable that God, wanting to come to us, came as a Baby, the One Who has worked the greatest wonders of love, joy, peace, and healing in this world.