This tiny little hippo has something small to say,
And if we’re really quite now, she’ll say it right away…Listen-
Upon first purchasing the book in 2006, the year we welcomed our firstborn, I have since memorized “The Belly Button Book” by Sandra Boynton. It is perhaps one of our silliest children’s books in our ever-expanding library. But it has remained a favorite, and I cannot see myself getting rid of it anytime soon. In fact, if the Lord tarries, I plan on reading it to my grandchildren one day.
Throughout the book, a small hippo keeps saying “Bee-bo”, in the attempt to pronounce “belly button”. I usually raise my voice to almost a squeal, then I will poke in the belly button whichever child(ren) are listening. This always results in lots of squealing laughter and smiles.
Today, Jaron (who just turned 4 earlier this week!) requested the epic story. Naomi was passively listening nearby and immediately wanted to get in on the fun of the “Bee-bo”. I complied, smiling at how the simple things causes children to filled with joy. Upon the second time around of tickling Naomi, a thought occurred to me.
Her belly button represents something that will always be a mystery. As much as I want to think of the “now’s” and not the “then’s”, sometimes the “then’s” show up at inopportune moments and leave a strange feeling. “Oh?! You don’t know who her mother was?”, I had a bystander ask recently. “You mean, there’s no record of her parents?”, another asks. These well-intentioned questions asked innocently leave a void in my heart.
I then think of Naomi’s birth mother and I wonder how often her womb and arms feel the void? I wonder if the bond the umbilical cord made physically still has shape and form for her emotionally. I wonder what it would be like for her to hear laughter ringing out of her beautiful daughter’s mouth.
“What do I do with this strange feeling?”, I asked myself. I marvel at how a Sandra Boynton book can create theological musings. How do I create a emotional, mental and spiritual bond that can be a direct line of nourishment, growth and bonding? How do I incorporate the “then’s” with the “now’s” and the “going to be’s”?
I suppose the first part of that question will be eliminating the “I”. I really cannot do anything in and of myself. Is my self challenged? Absolutely. Am I learning as I go? Of course. I must make and maintain weathered knees to even attempt approaching the God-inspired act of an “umbilical cord redo”.
Consideration is given to the Apostle Paul. He was celibate and physically fatherless. However, he says something so very profound in I Thessalonians 2:7 when he compares his love for the people as being as gentle “as a nursing mother”. As a mom who can relate to this four times over, I am thankful to use this as reference in my relationship with my new daughter Naomi.
Perhaps Paul uses this analogy because there is something that happens in this aspect of a mother/child relationship that goes beyond a child receiving nourishment. As the child takes in nourishment, the mother gives. But the mother is also taking in something very precious. She is taking in the full dependence of the child and she is taking in a demand to be gentle. If a mom doesn’t relax, the child senses this, and this can lead to lots of frustration for both mom and child. She has to take in the dependence of the child initially to later give wings of independence.
But what about in the case of adoption where the child is past the physical age of the sucking reflex? What if they have already “moved on” from being dependent? (Naomi is sometime fiercely independent). Paul was addressing adults. Is it possible to be gentle “like a nursing mother” in any relationship? My gut says yes! I’m not saying I have it figured out. But I do feel it is worth further study and exploration in understanding how to create a new bond.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 may hold the key, as well as understanding more fully the relationship with the Trinity. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”. If I bring a cord of love and dependence on Christ alone and wrap this around Naomi with whatever “cord” is she holds of the”now” or “then”, and this is followed by the all-encompassing divine love and grace of the Trinity, perhaps then there will be a manifestation of a stable, unrelenting and unbroken “cord” in Naomi’s life.
The relationship held by the Trinity will never be fully understood on this side of heaven. But I do believe, as we all have been invited by Christ to know the fullness of Godhead more personally, we begin to understand how there is joy in submission and servitude to His will. There is even a greater “God-confidence” that manifests itself as I understand my full dependence on Him. Russian painter Andrei Rublev captured this beautifully in 1425 with his depiction of the Trinity. They are lovingly submitting to one another and seem to be so in sync with one another that the strong bond and relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is fully evident.
Oh to reflect this glory in daily living! I want to experience this Trinitarian love and devotion in everything I do! I often miss this, leaving the table He has set for me full of “every good and perfect gift”, and I sometimes opt for “cheaper fare” like impatience or giving into distractions. But perhaps prayer can lead us to recognize the wonderment of His power to create a binding love and even a divine dance (perichoresis is a Greek word that describes the divine dance/relationship the Trinity holds) to our daily steps. I’m thanking God today for using a silly book to remind me and challenge me to bring all “strange feelings” to Him on this journey.
On a practical note/update, we had family pictures made recently, so I hope to be updating soon with those as soon as they become available. Naomi is doing absolutely amazing. We are both dumbfounded with how much English she understands and is starting to speak. Her smile can truly chase away a cloudy day. She has jumped right in to be part of the “zoo” around here! She’s made some steps toward bonding, and some of these have exceeded my expectations. As with most all things in life, this journey must be perceived and treated with patience as a marathon and not a sprint. Overall, we have thankful hearts.
Thank you for taking the time to read.