Eliza, Don't You Know?

Let's wake the baby and show her the stars.
Madeleine L'Engle

It was September. The yellow school buses were rumbling down the neighborhood streets, kids with colorful socks were tumbling out of the folding door with laughter and that whoosh of the door hydraulics. She thought she would be starting her first full-time teaching job.

She was. Instead of a classroom of grade schoolers, Kate's student is a tiny swaddled 7# 2oz Baby Girl named Eliza. Instead of 9am-3pm, Kate's school day is around the clock.

She is tired and sore and forever changed, body and soul. So is Zeke. I sense they are filled to the brim with happiness, holiness, wonder and a taste of bewilderment.

Baby Girl is named after her thrilled grandmas (and one great-grandma), Elizabeth + Jo. Eliza means "my God is abundance" and Jo means "may God increase". Oh, that she might know God's wing.

If you want to see God's heart for us, just look at a newborn - vulnerable, risky, connected, miracle, extravagant, new life, the height of creativity and artistry. There is shock at being pushed into a new world, I could see it on Kate's face. In those first moments after delivery, I could see it in all of their faces. Trauma and hope brought together into loving hands by pain and by blood, by the river of life. Their hearts are now at risk in a new light through the windows I see in Eliza's eyes.

Birthing is a staggering path to see the light. It is a dirty fight, deep surrender and euphoric release. The pain will tear your heart out, make it bigger and try to put it back inside your burning chest.

When I consider all the tiny pieces being knit together and the perfect timing in the yarn, being born happens against all odds. Birth is love in a fire of roses.

I don't know just how, but the first birth gives us glimpses into the second one.

Abiding with Christ - it is like being born again from center the circumference.
Frank Laubach, The Game with Minutes

Look at this little feather.

Becoming JoJo has been quick as lightning and oh, so full of electric wonder. Put the leaves in the table, our family extends to ten.

I never had any inkling ahead of time when any of my own children were born. But, in the dark before Eliza was born, I looked up at the dawn and had a brief thought this could be it. There was something about the smell of a new season on the wind and how the Big Dipper was low in the dark morning sky. I felt as though something were aloft.

I wrote this poem so I could remember the setting of her birth day and one day when she's at JoJo and Papa's house, tell Eliza all about it.

Eliza
by Terri Conlin

One still moment on an ordinary day
Early morning before you were born
Autumn filled the summer air
I saw brush strokes on the night canvas
Sweeping those starry skies
Pouring Little Dipper stars into my denim eyes

Eliza, don’t you know
You were loved before the moon
We counted summer days
You were square on calendar time
Not a nesting day too soon
She was strong and he was steady
In the wonder and the ready

He said her pockets full of pain
Were more than he could hold
But when you finally came
Her pockets found the seam
She held you, her first child
Pain forgotten in the stitches and your smile

Eliza, don’t you know
You were loved before the moon
We counted summer days
You were square on calendar time
Not a nesting day too soon
She was strong and he was steady
In the wonder and the ready

I came in even with the low planes
At the farmland fence
She was born in wine country
That wide view from Rex Hill
Opened all of our hearts
Brought us home, gathering scattered parts

Photos by Kate Sanders.