Welcome, Atticus

As many of you may already know, I have recently welcomed my son into the world.

His name is Atticus Michael Hylton.  He was born on Thursday morning, and everything went very, very well.  My wife is already almost fully recovered, and my daughter is fascinated with her new little brother. He is calm and easy to please; most of the time he is content to let us hold him while he snuggles up and watches us.

When my daughter, Clara, was born, I did not think I had the capacity to love anything the way I loved her from the very first moment she took breath into her lungs.  As my son was growing in the womb, I worried that I had reached the limitations of my ability to love.  It is a good thing that God’s compassion, wisdom, and grace is eternal and infinite, and that he will frequently give to us a measure of His love so that we may share it with others. As soon as my son opened his eyes, I loved him dearly; I loved him fiercely.

The greatest thing about having children is that it can give one a small glimpse through the eyes of God.  We can learn, in part, what it is to create.  It can be learned, in part, what it means to truly love.  We can come to understand what it means to desire and yearn for someone else, a creature who is flesh of our own flesh and spirit of our own spirit. We know that we would go to whatever ends are required to cover our children with our love.

In honor of my son’s birthday, I would like to share with you a song and two poems.  Please enjoy.

To the Future

He, the unborn, shall bring
From blood and brain
Songs that a child can sing
And common men;

Songs that the heart can share
And understand;
Simple as berries are
Within the hand:

Such a sure simpleness
As strength may have;
Sunlight upon the grass:
The curve of the wave.

William Soutar

***

Words for My Daughter

Come, the cap of birth is dry,
my labouring is done, your cry
has split the world’s roof.

Be comforted, the womb
returns to wrap around you.

Sweet darkness, velvet-blood
from which you came, as night
will cup you again, again

move you outward into light;
a brilliance to be danced in

is life. Your staggering steps
will grow to trust this earth;
it meets both sure and unsure feet.

That shifting pain will shape
the edges that define you.

Know the body that confines
is a new kind of freedom
to find the fullness of you.

Move through yourself. See,
the future is with child

and needs your labouring.
Be done with pasts, walk away.
I’ll watch. I’ll guard your back,

blinded by my own time. Go forward
from the shadows mothers cast.

As old women shrink, rich fruit
seeds into the garden.
I have been. Now you. So live,

we have both shed our tears
for miracles, for coming new.

In birth-sleep heavy at my breast,
love child, first comes the dream
and then the making true.

Janet Paisley

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