The Hands of Lula Lutris
When I first laid eyes on my new granddaughter Lucinda (nickname Lula) born last week, I was struck by the way she held her hands up near her face - she reminded me of a sea otter!
I held her in my arms (as I would never pick up a wild otter) and she felt like the otter plush toys we sell at the Aquarium, soft and warm and cuddly and a little squirmy, full of life.
Cradled in my arms, she looked up at me like otters floating on their back in the cold ocean. They hold their hands up out of the water to keep them warmer - there is less insulating fur on their hands than the rest of their body. Keeping paws close to their face also helps them break shells open on their chest and eat the meat quickly before sea gulls grab their yummy abalone and crabs. When otters become mothers, they use those elevated hands to hold onto their own babies on their chest, keeping them, like the food, nearby and safe and out of the water.
Were Lula's hands like that in the womb for 9 months, close, warm, ready for action, protective of her face? Is there a slight hint of a fighter, not just protecting the face but ready to hold off danger? Not yet, I don't think, but otters and our little Lula are not just cute and soft, but strong and smart, protective and assertive.
OK, maybe imagining a bit there. But our Lucinda, Lula, is a survivor, like sea otters.
What's in a name? Sea otters are called scientifically "enhydra lutris," literally "in-the-water otter." Lucinda means "light bearer" and Lula means “abundance.” So much life and light in the "lu" sounds.
Like those in-the-water otters, Lula began wet. She too found life in sea water, the amniotic salty inner ocean that rushes and buoys inside every pregnant womb.
The Aquarium refers to some especially popular animals, like otters, penguins, white sharks, as "charismatic animals" - they inspire interest, compassion, activism, visitors.
We welcomed a new charismatic animal into our family this week. After I got home from my grandma visit, I mailed her a plush baby otter. Lucinda Lula Lutris, sister to all critters, daughter of all creation.
Bring your baby or grandparent and we will bless them by the bay! I post these devotionals on ocean stewardship and spirituality every Wednesday here and on Facebook.tells you more about our learning/serving youth group service trips and adult pilgrimages from the Christian Church of Pacific Grove, alongside the Monterey Bay.