He's tall and burly, like someone who played football in high school. Gray-haired, with some extra weight around the middle, he carries his daughter to school wrapped in a blanket every day through the long winter months.
I saw him this morning, as I do most mornings, walking back toward home as I waited in the drop-off line with my van-full of kids. He walked down the sidewalk toward me with the now empty blanket draped casually over his shoulders. It looked to be a quilt made of the sort of colors that bring to mind a Winnie the Pooh motif, a baby blanket, maybe.
Most days, I've noticed him, and most days I've thought, "Really, you carry her?" There's part of me that still thinks it's a bit much - his daughter's in first grade at least - but today I saw it differently.
Today I recognized the value - the depth - of a love that carries.
Grown men don't often walk around with baby quilts draped over their shoulders, but this one does, and as I write I'm reminded of those pictures of Christ the good shepherd walking with a lamb draped over his shoulders. In those pictures that lamb is you, is me, is us - we who're being carried, wrapped in those incarnate arms of love.
I wonder whether his daughter will even remember the way she was carried each frosty, breath-catching morning. Maybe she won't and certainly a day will come when she says, "No more." But slow-dancing in the kitchen with one of my bitty-boys on my hip, his head tucked into my shoulder, I know the truth, that being held, being carried, shapes us deep within in ways that can never, ever, be forgotten.