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Pauline Lerner

August 4, 2005 at 5:06 AM

A friend told me that she is awaiting the birth of a grandson in September and that.there are some significant medical concerns about the health of the baby. She recently visited a grandnephew who is only a few months old. She held him and thought he was quite beautiful. He was born with a syndrome which caused serious problems in several of his organ systems. He had to have four surgeries, the earliest when he was only three days old. His digestive tract was affected, so he did not gain weight and develop properly until
after the surgeries. Now he is gaining weight and growing well. I remarked that the medical term for this type of problem is “failure to thrive.” She told me that she first heard this term when she was in India years ago, doing volunteer work at an orphanage. The attendants there had not had a lot of physical contact with the infants, not because they were cold or uncaring, but because they simply didn’t know that this is very important. Cultural factors played a role, too. The attendants at the hospital believed that the karma the babies had brought with them from their previous lives would make them strong. The small children who had not received much physical contact as babies were pathetic, she told me. They would sit alone, rocking themselves back and forth while staring ahead with vacant eyes. They just couldn’t have social interactions. I told her about some of the classic studies on monkeys who were separated from their mothers at birth. They, too, grew up to be pathetic individuals without the ability to socialize. She told me that she had seen a film about these children in India. One scene that she found especially moving showed a young boy alone outdoors playing a very mournful tune on a flute. She said that he was doing well to be able to play the flute. I told her that a song or a tune can save a person’s mortal soul. She agreed heartily. We both knew of plenty of people who had had this experience. (One of them was me.) She said that the conversation was getting too depressing for her. Then I told her something that brightened her spirit. Recently, I heard a CD with a song written and sung by a friend of one of my students. He wrote this song while awaiting the birth of his first child, a girl whom he nicknamed “New Moon Girl.” The repeating motif of the song was “Waiting for the New Moon Girl,” and part of the song was

All winter long
Waiting for the New Moon Girl
All spring long
Waiting for the New Moon Girl

My friend really liked that. I told her, “Next comes something even better.”

Every day is an act of faith
Waiting for the New Moon Girl
Every day is an act of faith
Waiting for the New Moon Girl

My friend told me that now she was feeling very good. I told her that I believe that the song is true for everyone. None of us has guarantees about our future. For all of us, every day is an act of faith.

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