Kate and Mister had long talked about how to be more involved as Christians at Mister's university. Before Christmas, they had decided to start going to the CRU meetings on campus as a family. It was an easy enough decision. One evening a week, 8:30 to 10ish, worship, devotional, meeting people--pretty simple and straightforward, a basic commitment. They hoped to meet some students, get to know them and start being more involved either through Bible studies or simply having them over to their house. Of course a baby could and did complicate matters simply by being an extra person that is (by nature) high maintenance. But Kate and Mister had discovered that life, as it moves on, simply gets more complicated. They figured that the earlier they learned how to deal with it, the better.
As the new semester started, Kate and Mister and Teddy bundled up and trundled over to campus, feeling rather conspicuous with a car seat or baby carrier (or both) as they found a spot in the CRU meeting room. And they had reason. There was never a more conspicuous person at CRU than whoever was holding Teddy. Four months old, starry blue eyes, strawberry blonde hair, and a smile to melt the heart of the most ardent baby-hater: Teddy was a magnet, and generally adored. After the first two meetings, Kate lost count of the number of people who offered to babysit him. One week, a young man came up and exclaimed (in admiration), "What an amazing head of red hair!"
Kate, who had spent many a day considering (without conclusion) Teddy's hair color, replied in earnest, "Wow! Really?"
The student had seemed confused, but then again, so was Kate. There might be some reddish tint in some lighting, but to definitively lable him as a redhead was...confusing.
The first week, Kate had Teddy in their Ergo carrier, and was surprised by another girl coming up to her and enthusiastically exclaiming over and asking about Teddy. Then she explained that she had a daughter of her own and that she and her husband were both on staff for CRU. That evening and the next week brought deep heart-to-heart conversation, understanding, and a committment to get together for dinner and games--which they discovered was a shared passion.
At dinner, Kristen and Jared taught the Millers how to play Guillotine ("the revolutionary card game where you win by getting a head"...snicker, snicker) and the conversation flowed fast and thick through stories of meeting spouses, having a first child, overseas experiences, and schooling...where there was a pause. "Wait a second," Jared interrupted when he heard that both Kate and Mister had gone to Hillsdale College. "Do you know Elliot and Bonnie Wild? I think Elliot went to Hillsdale around the time you were there."
They both knew Elliot-- "In fact," Kate expounded, "Elliot was better friends with my own brother, Elliott, but I did go to their wedding in Hillsdale."
"Wow. Small world," said someone...but all were thinking it. Kate was delighted. The older she got, the world seemed both bigger and smaller. She realized more and more (especially since Teddy's birth) how distance can seem so far when it makes it hard to see family and friends. And yet the world couldn't help but seem small when you can meet a random stranger almost anywhere and they happen to know (or be best friends with) the so-and-so that you knew in college, or high school, or church, or wherever.
The other delightful thing about dinner together was watching Teddy and Charlotte play together. Well, "play" as young babies can. Teddy had never encountered another baby that was close to his age, and he was fascinated. They watched each other all evening. They gurgled at each other and flapped their hands and touched each other when they were close enough.
Kate watched in wonder, amazed at Teddy's amazement. It's too bad that grown-ups loose so much of that delight in meeting someone new that just comes from a common humanity, Kate thought. It really should be enough to pique our interest when we meet someone new who just happens to be about our size and happens to be another human being...