What Mary Read on the Way to Bethlehem

What does it mean to swaddle a baby?

Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket for warmth and security. It can keep him from being disturbed by his own startle reflex, and it may even help him stay warm and toasty for the first few days of life until his internal thermostat kicks in. Most important, it can help to calm your baby.

Nowadays, you probably won’t leave the hospital without a little lesson in this technique. Try it, after you’ve made sure your baby isn’t hungry, wet, or tired. It can be used to help settle your baby down when he’s overstimulated or when he just needs to feel something close to the tightness and security of the womb.

Once your baby is about a month old you might want to stop swaddling him while he’s awake, as it may interfere with mobility and development in older babies. It’s fine to keep swaddling your baby for naps and nighttime if he seems to sleep better that way. He’ll let you know by crying or kicking when he no longer wants to be bundled up.

—text from the BabyCenter web site; image: Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Madonna and Child (1319).

Doo-Doo for President

crying_babyHere’s a story from Sunday’s sermon that everyone seemed to enjoy.  It’s based on that passage in Mark 9 where Jesus takes a little child into his arms and tells his disciples, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” (vs. 37). 


At one of my churches some of us used to go to a nearby trailer park on Saturday afternoons to work with the children there.  On one particular Saturday afternoon, a little girl came dragging her baby brother along with her. 

“What’s his name?” I asked. 

“Doo-Doo,” she answered. 



So, Doo-Doo it was.  He was really too young to be there.  We usually worked with children four and older.  But his sister held him on her lap and for a while he did fine.  But then he began to get tired, and then he began to cry, until the tears spilled down his fat brown cheeks and his nose began to run.  It went on for a long time until finally, exhausted by all that crying, he fell asleep right there in the middle of the floor.  I begged the children not to wake him but to their delight they found that they couldn’t wake him, no matter how hard they tried.  They were poking him, prodding him, clapping their hands in front of his face and shouting, “Doo-Doo!” I began to feel sorry for him, and asked someone else to take over while I took him home.

He lived just a few trailers away.  And as I walked with him in my arms I looked down at his face.  That peaceful expression, at last.  Those tightly curled eyelashes.  The salty tear-tracks on his cheeks.  The dried mucus under his nose.  Away from all those other children I could focus my attention on this one child, and as I did I began to imagine the life that was ahead of him:  probably he was just one more child in a trailer that was already too full.  And probably he would go off to school when he was old enough, without any preparation, without anyone having ever read Dr. Seuss to him.  And probably he would try, for a while, until he failed so often he stopped trying.  And then he would stumble through a troubled adolescence and into an even more troubled young adulthood.  And if the statistics proved true in his case there was a good chance that he would never live to see his twenty-fifth birthday. 

As I held him in my arms I seemed to see his whole life stretched out before me, his whole, short, sad life.  And my heart went out to that child, and I almost cried myself.  I came to the trailer where he lived and knocked on the door.  I waited until a tired and bored-looking young woman yanked it open.  “Is this your baby?” I asked, holding him out.  “Yeah,” she said, as if it wore her out to admit it. “He fell asleep,” I said.  And then I put him into her arms and watched as she jerked him inside and shoved the door closed with her hip.  For a full minute I stood there, wondering what I could do.  And then I turned and said with a sigh, “God, please take care of Doo-Doo.” 

He was just a little kid.  And in the eyes of the world he will probably never amount to anything.  He won’t be a soccer star, or the pastor of a prominent church, or the president of the United States (I mean, really, can you imagine the bumper stickers?).  Yet in that moment—in that crazy, upside-down, Kingdom of God moment—I saw him the way Jesus saw him.

Nobody was more important.


For the full text of the sermon click HERE.