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Personal Impact

07/31/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

By Kent Carlson

On Friday, May 16, 2008, little Brooke Sawyer Opland, my very first grandchild, came into the world weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and stretching out to 19 and 1/4 inches. She is perfect, and mother and daughter are doing wonderfully well. So is dad.

It is a fascinating and almost surreal experience to see your little girl holding her own little girl. It truly seems like just a few months ago, my daughter Heidi was upstairs in her room playing with her dolls. I can still picture her like it was yesterday, in her feety pajamas, sneaking a finger full of butter from the fridge.

By the time she was in her teens, she had perfected a certain glare, this evil eye, which could bore holes through her mother and I, when we were being… well, parents. This was a powerful weapon. It was hard to stand up to, until recently when I realized that in the last nine months or so, she has lost this weapon. She tried to shoot an evil eye at me a few times when I was being particularly annoying, but it didn’t work. It lacked its harshness, its power. Her glare collapsed in mid-air into a mixture of tenderness and gentle wisdom. She was becoming a mom. Little Brooke will learn to perfect this glare soon enough. And she, in turn, will teach her daughter. And the circle of life continues.

Brooke was born by cesarean section, so it was a few hours before I was able to see her. When my wife and I walked into the room she was all bundled up and lying in her mother’s arms. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. She was so tiny. She was placed in my arms and all my inherent restlessness disappeared. I could have sat and gazed at her for days.

I have tried to get a grasp of what I am feeling about being a grandfather. I had a little insight into some of the subterranean things going on when my wife and I, later that weekend, watched the movie, The Great Debaters (a movie which I highly recommend, by the way). This movie takes place in the Jim Crow South before the Civil Rights movement. The legacy of racism and lynching is a painful subplot that saturated the film. When the movie was over I went outside and sat on my deck and tried to fight back tears, as well as a rising sense of anger and outrage. Issues of racism have always been painfully troubling to me, but there was an intensity in my feelings that I couldn’t quite place. Then it dawned on me. There is a new little girl in this world who means more to me than life itself. And I do not want this world to be an ugly place for her.

So this is the promise that I made to my granddaughter. In whatever way I can, no matter how small, I will never tolerate injustice. I will ignore silly slights and inconveniences, but I will never ignore when the powerful oppresses the powerless. I have held the weak and tiny in my arms, and Brooke is more precious than words can say. And whenever I, or any one of us, have the courage to speak truth to power, to give voice to the voiceless, to defend the weak, we speak for the Brookes of our world and we make this world a more wonderful place for them to live.




Kent is the senior pastor at Oak Hills Church in Folsom. He can be reached at 916-983-0181 or via email at kent.carlson@oakhills.org. More of Kent’s writing can be found on his blog, kentycarlson.blogspot.com.

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