Starting Point
This week's stories | Home Page
Issue Date:  September 10, 2004

Starting Point


I sing to my granddaughter Sakura. For diaper changing, I launch into the Gelineau Psalms because there is one for every occasion. Psalm 139 is good for the easy wet ones: “It was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb.” For the really poopy ones, there’s Psalm 8: “What are we that you should keep us in mind; we are mortal, yet you care for us.”

I sang to my sons until I was replaced by Mr. Sony Walkman. When my granddaughter’s daddy was 5 he made it clear that some songs were not bedtime material: cradles falling, ladybug houses burning, Puff dying. I couldn’t blame him -- a veritable Brothers Grimm musical.

This same son also had ideas of appropriate songs around the house. If I sang a hymn that had gotten stuck in my head, he’d shout, “This isn’t a church, you know!”

Once I tried to reason with him: “You know, Philip, there are people who pay Mommy to sing these songs.”

“Well, no one is paying you now!”

Touché, kiddo.

My friend, Jane, who has 20-plus grandkids, told me that a grandparent’s love is the most like God’s. When our first was born, Jane called and asked if now I understood.

I do.

When my husband and I sing to Sakura together, she’s in heaven. As we harmonize on “Abide With Me” or “Dona Nobis Pacem,” she places a tiny hand on each of us and gets this milky look of bliss on her face.

But her favorite, the song that works magic when she’s fractious, is “Tell Me Why.” She can be howling and this song works like a rune: “Tell me why the stars do shine … the ivy twines … the sky’s so blue … And then I’ll tell you why I love you.” And the answer to this tuneful baby catechism question is, “Because God made you; that’s why I love you.”

It’s not complicated. It’s the most like God’s love.

Paige Byrne Shortal writes from her home in rural Missouri.

National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 2004

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: