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Three Great Wonders in One

August 30, 2011

When Charles Schulz’s beagle, Snoopy, sat down at his typewriter to write The Great American Novel he always began, “It was a dark and stormy night. . . ,” before getting distracted.  With hurricane Irene blasting through Maryland it was just such a night when Geoff and Margot, our son and daughter-in-law, left their home in Calvert County and headed for the hospital in Annapolis.  There, on August 28, 2011, Aiden Charles Beach was born.  No one got distracted.  All friends and family rejoiced, and most of all the mother, the father, and Aiden himself, I’m sure.  Here’s a photo circulated by Dad.

What can we say of the miracle of a newborn child?  Perhaps Kenneth Burke’s precise and profound words will help: “The three great wonders are: (1) that there is existence; (2) that some existent entities are organisms experiencing the pleasures and pains of growth and sex; (3) that some sexual existents possess both the need and the ability to master the ways of symbolic action, as with, for instance, the many varieties of tribal languages.”  Aiden clearly qualifies on wonders no. 1 and no. 2.  He’s also made a start on no. 3, crying out on arrival, I’m told, without even being urged.  But a correction, Professor Burke: note that he used not a tribal but a universal (and instantly comprehensible) language!

The photo also tells a story of intimate bond between parent and child, love and joy but also labor and responsibility.  A gift is also a task.  Some years ago my mother,Virginia Kimmich Beach, penned out in her beautiful calligraphy these words of the renowned cellist and champion of human rights, Pablo Casals:

“When will we teach the children what they are?  We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?  You are a marvel.  You are unique.  In all the world there is no other child exactly like you.  Look at your body—what a wonder it is!  Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move!  You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.  You have a capacity for anything.  Yes, you are a marvel.  And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?  You must cherish one another.  You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of its children.”

So much of the news that drums on our ears is painful to hear.  It is good to hear unalloyed good news, dramatically set off against a dark and stormy night!  I’ve always enjoyed Vladimir Nabukov’s sly affirmation, “The world is not as bad as it seems.”

G. K. B.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Diana permalink
    August 30, 2011 2:08 pm

    What a cutie! And the baby is not bad looking, either! Congratulations, GKB I and II. And may wonders never cease.

  2. Sándor Máthé permalink
    August 30, 2011 9:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Congratulations. May God bless you all: the newborn child, parents and grandparents.

  3. Richard Boeke permalink
    August 31, 2011 10:09 am

    Dear Kim and Barbara:

    From Sweden we send

    JOLLY JOY on the birth of Aiden Charles Beach,
    At birth already making a speech.
    Whether in pulpit or at the bar
    Or following a special star
    May this tiny face
    Grow to find this world a blessed place.

    Love, Richard and Jopie
    Boeke

  4. John permalink
    September 5, 2011 5:21 pm

    Words I do not fashion well. So, congratulations, not intended as merely that.
    —McClements

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