Calvin Miller is a former seminary professor of mine and a good friend back in Birmingham. I once heard him tell this story about the adoption of his grandson from India and how waiting for that baby helped him understand Simeon’s story from Luke 2.
Several years ago, my daughter called and said that she and her husband were not able to have children, so they had decided to adopt a little baby boy from India. They had been working with an adoption agency and they had found a little boy for the young couple. The little boy’s story was heartbreaking. His mother had died of starvation on the very day that he was born. It was a miracle she hadn’t died before, but she was able to hold on long enough to bring this little boy into the world. He weighed three pounds at birth and was placed in a Hindu orphanage, a rough sort of place for a child to enter the world. My daughter told me that he might be a little small, and of course, his skin color would be different from ours. I said, “That’s okay, honey. If he is yours, then he is ours, and we will love him all the same. He’ll be our grandson.”
I found myself looking forward to the time when that child would make his way to America. My daughter and son-in-law went through all the red tape of adoption, and the anticipation only grew. Then word was sent from India to Nebraska that everything was ready and the baby was on his way. He would be delivered to my daughter and son-in-law by an Indian man from the adoption agency.
Fifty or so people gathered at the airport in Omaha. Most of us there had never seen someone from India, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. We spotted the United Airlines jet as it made its approach to the runway. It was two hours late and rain was just pouring down. I prayed so hard for that big jumbo jet to land softly and safely. The plane touched down and taxied into the gate. And soon, people began filing off the plane. Unnecessary people really. They were all in the way of the child I so badly wanted to see. Then, a buzz went through the crowd and we spotted a man with brown skin and a turban wrapped around his head. We broke into applause, thinking this man must have been with the agency, and our baby wasn’t too far behind. The man looked at us as if to say, “I love this country”, then kept walking. It wasn’t the person we had been waiting for, but he appreciated our welcome.
Then, from the back of the line came a man holding a little baby in his arms. He walked right up to my daughter and held out the child. That little baby stretched out his tiny brown arms and my daughter pulled him close with her soft, white hands. And a child found his mother half way around the world. After much kissing and cuddling, she laid him on the floor and took off his cloth diaper that had probably been washed in a dirty river, and put on a snap-tite Pampers. It was a beautiful thing, this baptism into American culture. And never have I ever seen so much joy for the arrival of a baby from another world. It moved all of us deeply. And I now have a grandson.
I imagine Simeon must have felt much the same. Waiting day after day for a child to come, and when the day finally arrived, it was as good as he thought it would be. I can almost see those old wrinkled hands taking that brand new flesh and holding it close, as if the child was his own. The look in his eyes was pure joy, because his wait is finally over. And I think the moment moved him as much as my moment moved me.