My honorary granddaughter, the first Canadian in her family, didn’t thank me for the gift of a tiny Canadian flag and lapel pin. She didn’t even look at me. In fact, she slept through the entire visit.
I understood. Could there be a better gift than sleep? Especially when you’re only three days old and born three weeks early after many hours of hard labour.
We clustered around her, her father, grandfather and I. Wrapped in one of her daddy’s red turbans, cradled in her beautiful mother Rajneet’s arms, little Sargun reminded me of an exquisite garden rose. When they presented her to me, barely five pounds and about the size of one of the Preacher’s loaves of bread, she felt weightless in my eager hands.
Rajneet had texted from the hospital, a few hours after Sargun’s birth. She’d enclosed a photo of herself and baby. “Hello, Grandma, I am a baby girl.”
“Happy is the man who gets a daughter,” her father, Prabh, told me several times during our visit. “Too often in my culture, girls are not welcome. I was raised differently.”
“Like a little Rajneet,” said Mr. Singh, Rajneet’s father, eyes soft, voice gentle.
During our visit, while drinking Chai and eating delectable Indian sweets, fitting of such a celebration, I asked if I could read a passage from the Bible. Devout Sikhs, my friends have a deep reverence for holy books. “Of course,” they said. I read these words from Psalm 139: 11-18.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”
Prabh reached for his phone and found a passage from his own holy book – words that echoed fairly closely what I had just read. Baby Sargun slept through it all, as her family pondered this tiny miracle so fresh from the hand of God.
I visited a new Canadian today. Blessed by the privilege I welcome her to my country and into our family. Perhaps it’s my way of paying it forward. Almost a century ago, Canadians welcomed my own parents as newborns, along with their immigrant parents. But along with a privilege, I count this a Christian responsibility. Unequivocally, the Bible states that people of faith are to welcome the stranger – and which one of us are not sometimes strangers among others?
God has beautiful things planned for our little rose. Welcome, Sargun.