By CHRIS PARKER

cparker@tnonline.com

It's a chilly, overcast Monday afternoon, and I've watered the tomato, pepper, impatiens, and pansey seedlings that are springing up in their paper cups on a folding table next to a south-facing window in the guest room of our old farmhouse.

I'm pleased with the little plants' progress. In another month or so, they'll be ready to plant outside. But they have some growing to do before they're ready for that move: The world can be a harsh place. So, for now, they'll stay in the warmth and protection of our home, sending their roots deep into the rich soil, as they grow, bending toward the sun.

Once they are planted outside, we'll be vigilant about giving them enough (but not too much) water, making sure to keep the soil around them loose so they can grow, and doing our best to keep insects and wildlife from nibbling their tender little leaves.

With our nurturing help, our little plants will grow strong and healthy, and give us tangy-sweet tomatoes, best eaten while still warm from the sun, and crisp peppers to dice into salads. The impatiens, pink and white, will set off the green trim of our white clapboard home and overflow the big pots at the front gate, welcoming visitors with soft color.

The petunias will grace our sunny memorial garden, their bright little faces offering splashes of pink and purple as reminders that even in the aftermath of profound loss, life continues, beautiful and sweet.

As I write this, our nation is reeling from the shock of human evil. Two young men, bright young men with promising futures, are believed to have detonated bombs fashioned from pressure cookers packed with ball bearings and other shrapnel, and hidden in backpacks, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon. The blasts killed three people, and left scores more horribly wounded.

As I tended my young plants, people suffered. People died. It wasn't until I took a break that I learned of the bombs, of the terror, of the victory celebration turned to horror and despair. Across the nation, people reacted with disbelief, anguish, anger, and questions demanding answers that may never come. How could this happen? Why? Will it happen again?

Yes, evil acts like this will certainly happen again. In fact, they are happening now, in places all over the world. Knowing that makes it hard to keep seeing life as sweet and beautiful.

Sometimes, it takes a monumental act of faith to keep a positive perspective.

There is no act of faith more monumental than to bring a new life into such a scarred and scared world. But, in the past year, there have been at least six families in our circle who have had the courage to take that step.

Babies, poet Carl Sandburg wrote, are God's opinion that the world should go on.

Ellie, Violet, Logan, Jack, Sophia, and Paige are tiny bundles of faith in the future of humankind. These cherished babies will be carefully nurtured, made strong and capable through love and guidance. They will change the world for the better; they will counter balance the evil that, sadly, will always be with us.

Like tiny seedlings, Ellie, Violet, Logan, Jack, Sophia and Paige will grow and mature, and give their gifts, beautiful and sweet, to the world.

"Every child begins the world again." Henry David Thoreau