Today I held Eli for the first time. Eli is my grandson, born September 16 to our daughter Allison and son-in-law Noah. A Harvest Moon baby!
I have experienced the birth of my three children. It took five years for our second son to be born, and eight more years before our daughter.
I have witnessed the birth of five grandchildren before Eli. With each one the miracle and mystery becomes more astounding. How does this happen? From a few microscopic cells, from the union of a man and a woman who find each other, in nine short months, a human being is born.
As I watched my daughter cradling her newborn son, I thought about her birth. She was born the year I turned 40. My wife was 37. We had two sons, ages thirteen and eight. We had not expected any more children. On our first visit to the doctor, he asked if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy.
We sat dumbfounded by his question. We looked at each other for a moment and said, “No.” This was not a pregnancy. This was our child. We wanted this child. We would do nothing to risk her full and complete health. We changed doctors.
Eight months later, Allison was born, as perfect a daughter a father could ever wish to hold. I rocked her to sleep every night and sang songs to her about Jesus until she finally told me she thought she was too old to be rocked any more. Those were treasured moments when I celebrated God’s gift of our daughter. Moments when I often reflected on the doctor’s question.
Years later I started writing poetry and wrote a poem about the daughter God gave us:
You came into my life unexpected,
unrequested, unplanned and unknown,
bursting the bands of my being,
redefining and rewriting
the schemata of my soul.
You appeared to me:
a formless faded phantom on a screen,
echoes of flesh, a beating heart,
tiny fetal foot reflected in the womb
of your mother.
We wanted you, longed for you,
waited for you, prayed for you,
prepared for you:
a room, built with my own hands,
a yellow crib and mobile,
fluffy toys and dolls,
to greet you when you came ...
And you came,
revealing my arrogant ignorance,
that I could think my world complete;
that I could live if you were not;
that life could be without you;
that life could be again in your going.
You pose the question in my mind,
with your smile, your girlish giggle,
the stroking of your cat,
the tears upon your cheek,
the weight of your slumbering body
at rest in mine, curled up in the arms
of a big blue chair:
“What is there I know not that I have not
and could not live without?”
So, today I held Eli, my daughter’s son, and reflected on God’s miracle, His goodness and His grace.