How a child is held tells so much about how a child is loved -- or even IF the child is loved.
In this first drawing, entitled "A Mother's Prayer", you can see the mother's love and concern in the way she holds her sleeping son. He has slipped down into a position that must be uncomfortable for her, but she doesn't move -- he has been ill and his sleep is too important while her discomfort is not important at all. And while she sits so uncomfortably holding him, she prays for his continued recovery.
So much love drawn into a few gestures.
Here is another mother and son but in a very different situation -- they are laughing together. She is making him laugh and enjoy himself.
Once again, however, she has put herself in an uncomfortable position for his pleasure. Her arms are beginning to ache as he makes it clear that he wants more and more of this.
"Goodbye and God Keep You" is the title I gave to this drawing of a family holding each other as the father prepares to leave for Afghanistan.
There is no eye contact and they hold each other at angles as though knowing they will have to separate soon. But the son rests his face against his father's shoulder and his mother's left hand. At that point they are all connected. That is the physical centre of their love.
This next photograph has the people out of focus plus the adult has her eyes closed, but even so, you can tell that this adult and this child are happy to be together at this particular moment.
These people are known to me so I can tell you that the great-aunt is overjoyed to be holding her grand-niece in her arms. This was a happy day for the two of them.
The name of this next drawing is "God is Love". I called it that because John Paul II so frequently reminded me of fatherly love. So many pictures of him, especially as he got older, were icons of God the Father.
In this drawing you can see his cane and the awkwardness of his hands as he holds this young girl in his arms. This had to be causing him some serious pain and yet it also gave him great joy to be able to give this expression of fatherly love.
This is a picture of me taken about 20 years ago! I wanted to include this photo because I think it shows me looking gentle and loving when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
The truth is that I had been smiling and acting happy so much that afternoon that I had developed a terrible migraine. I really did not want to be holding a baby at all but I was the only one available to do so without inconveniencing everyone.
Who would have ever guessed that all this stuff was going on -- why I almost have a sweet smile upon my face! I'm good!
This drawing, you may recall, is entitled "Big Sister". I found the big sister so fascinating because you can see that she has not learned yet how to hide her feelings.
Her face shows a bit of her inner struggle over having to give up being the ONLY child.
She will have to learn that her mother's love is big enough to encompass all her children even though at the moment the mother seems to be entirely taken up with her son.
None of this stuff is easy.
Here is a beautiful mother with her beautiful daughter. Even though the photo is not great, you can still see the joy in the mother's face as she holds her child. It is obvious that she loves this little one and will be doing everything she can to give her as good a life as she can.
I know these two people, by the way, so I can tell you that this picture, taken almost 10 years ago, reflected the truth. The lovely mother is still filled with joy whenever she holds her daughter and the daughter just grows more beautiful and delightful day by day.
You may recall that this drawing of mine is entitled "An African Grandmother" and is representative of all those African grandmothers who are raising their children's children because their children and their children's spouses died of HIV/AIDS.
These grandmothers are strong women -- they have to be in order to accomplish what they are accomplishing, but they do get tired. The children get tired too without a father to rough-house with them. But this is life in the midst of an epidemic. The wonderful thing is that they still have someone in their life who loves them and whom they love!
Love is patient, Love is kind,
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude;
it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (I Cor. 13: 4-8a)