How does it happen that as infants grow into their six-month stage, their eyes, large and wide, their gaze, long and leisurely, seems to beam from a far off place, a heavenly body, perhaps, where pools of feeling need no shelter, where wonder and seriousness are in abundance, exposed and available for the innocent to absorb.

My most recent “gaze” came from my grandniece, Lucy, at her baptism ceremony. No matter whether held by her Dad or in the lap of her Mom, her eyes found other eyes to reach out to, to meet with steady regard, enthralled, it seemed, with this simple way of communing.

Is there anyone who isn’t moved by this connection? It often prompts us to take the infants in our arms, rub our cheeks against theirs, coo sounds or words that tell them how beautiful they are, how like angels. The appreciation pours from their eyes, filling us with warmth and the freedom to share ourselves—deeply—if only for a few moments.

For these several months at the beginning of human life, the spirit appears to be visible, soft and beckoning from emotional depths, perched front and center in our pupils, the force that eventually infuses and guides our daily actions.

Later on, gazing at Lucy’s photo after the event, other things came to mind, namely, thoughts about her life ahead. How will she look at the multihued people who will inhabit her future? With the same concern and thoughtfulness I saw this day, that same sense of eagerness to embrace?

What about her feelings for that part of planet earth she calls home? I fervently hope that what I felt as her desire for close contact extends to the plants and animals in her neighborhood, species that she may need to go the distance to protect from extinction if the climate continues its unhealthy trend.

And her earnestness, her seemingly direct access to a love for others, will that continue unencumbered? These are the emotions that will give her the courage to speak out for love over hate, good over evil, generosity over greed. This is what she and all of us must do to protect and increase our humanity, our special ability to care for each other throughout our lifetimes, the only way we can save ourselves from our own extinction.

I take this as the covenant that we who shared this day will keep with Lucy and her fellow innocents as together we forge our way into the coming year and, hopefully, many more to come.