(When Sonya’s Internet connection is fixed, a present-day photo of Josh will replace the one above! Sorry, Josh!)
Our first-born son, Joshua Ryals Calhoun, came as God’s gift to the world 37 years ago at 7:32 a.m. EDT, into the more than welcoming arms of his family, in a little, out-of-the-way hospital in a town called Cobleskill, New York. Cobleskill is a small town about 35 miles WSW of Schenectady, NY. It is in a beautiful part of our glorious country. Certainly not a tourist mecca, but a lovely place to live. At the time of Josh’s birth, Ashley was serving his first senior pastorate in Middleburgh, NY, a little town in the Schoharie valley a few miles SE of Cobleskill. Except for the rather “primitive,” or I should say “basic” conditions of the community hospital, there is no place I can think of where I would rather have brought our son into the world. The most important ingredient necessary for the environment of birth was there in abundance: LOVE.
it was at that precious moment that I got my first inkling of the meaning of birth, and the enormity of its import in creation. Having a child is not “GIVING birth.” It was my and our families’, indeed the world’s “RECEIVING” of the gift of a new promise of life. We cannot even begin to grasp the impact and importance of such a gift placed in our often tenuous or inadequate care. I wrote the following poem sometime ago:
I thought I knew everything.
certain of what I would be doing –
this act of giving, a gift for the world.
I exuded confidence in my preparation,
all clearly proving the stars
were rightly aligned. Nothing
left to chance.
I was ready.
I knew nothing at all.
I was prepared for
nothing of substance.
Above my ignorance, I heard
angels laughing, felt
a stern compassion, the calm
of God’s grace – stark contrast
to the vibrating uncertainty
rattling my soul.
That fear could play a part
in this precious gift I carried
was overlooked; part of the fine print
that I carelessly ignored. Hooked
by the hand-me-down hype, I gladly
signed on the dotted line, and boldly
winked at the overarching sky that smiled
upon me and my resolve.
I knew nothing. I
thought I knew everything.
The hard work began
and my eyes were opened.
Not my gift alone, but more;
it was your labor, the grinding
force of your submission, emerging
from dark to dark, light to light;
behind and beyond all, it was God’s
gift of creation-life-giving-breath.
And I felt love newly born
when I saw your face;
felt your heart against my own.
I knew I did not give, but
willingly, gratefully, received.
Becoming a parent again did not change those feelings except to heighten them. I have begun to feel that there really is no such thing as giving. It seems that every time I think I give something away, what I receive is so outweighed by the gift as to become almost insignificant.
Joshua, you are a well of joy that does not run dry. I have all those sweet memories of you as a baby, a toddler, an adolescent, yes. But in even greater measure I have always in my mind’s eye your adult, handsome, incandescent face of happiness and delight. You have been and always will be the miracle of receiving. The incomparable gift of God, the joy of which will never be diminished. With all my heart I cherish you, and the binding thread of love with which God joined you to your family can never be broken.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSHUA RYALS CALHOUN!
May you always know that your life will continue be filled with the abundance of enough. . .