A Tale of Two Elis

9 02 2007

First, the serious tale.

O Eli, there’s a sanctity in your innocence
A certain beauty and no uncertain strength
That brings me to the faith, I don’t know if I,
If I am climbing to or falling in,
But it comes like grace from your tiny hands
When I hold you in mine . . .

From Eli’s Song, by Rich Mullins

Around 8:30 Wednesday morning, my friend Kate called in a bit of a bind. Could I possibly watch her eight-month-old son, Eli, for a few hours? Of course I could, I said. My reasons for agreeing were threefold:

1. To help Kate. (I’m not completely selfish, people.)
2. To enjoy some cuddle time with an adorable baby.
3. To play with my new camera. (Okay, I am selfish. I admit this was the main reason I jumped at the opportunity.)

Before I tell you about my time with Eli, I need to explain something. I’m participating in an interesting group Bible study right now. It’s called SoulPerSuit, and all the discussion takes place online. The stages of the study are named for aspects of a card game: shuffle the deck, deal the cards, play your hand. An important element of the SoulPerSuit format involves using all five senses. Artistic expression is encouraged, and projects often incorporate the use of playing cards. The ladies photograph or scan their creations and post them to the group’s site along with an explanation of their inspiration.

We’re studying the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), which Jesus preached early on in his public ministry. He was still popular at this point, and lots of Jews hoped He would usher in a political kingdom. His sermon here was an attempt to educate them otherwise.

I’ve been sincerely impressed with the artwork some of the study participants have been producing. Unfortunately I fell a bit behind in the study because, (a) my book arrived late, and (b) I was wrapped up in last weekend’s 50s show. So, when Eli showed up Wednesday morning, I hadn’t created any art based on the first week of the study. I decided to make photography my medium and let Eli be my model.

I’d been thinking about Jesus’ statement, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Who’s more pure in heart than a baby? With that thought in mind, I sat Eli in a chair, gave him some playing cards, and starting clicking.

Eli stared at the cards in fascination. He tasted them. He bent them. He ran his little fingers across the slick surface. In short, he took the hand I dealt him and didn’t question its value. He explored it in every way he could. And I learned.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they do not look at their neighbor’s hand and say, “Hey, he has three kings, and I only have a lousy pair of sixes.” They see their cards as a rare and precious gift. They marvel at the colors. They taste and touch and enjoy what they have without questioning its value. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they take the hand they’re dealt without complaint and choose to enjoy it, believing in the goodness of the One who gave. Blessed are the pure in heart, for in accepting His gifts with unwavering trust in His goodness, they shall see God.

Eli taught me that.

And now for the silly tale. (If you have a high-speed connection, do click on the individual pictures. This is one beautiful child.)

O, Eli, there’s a joy in your sweet abandon
Like the cowgirl ballerina leaves that ride
The wild and holy bucking wind to the sky.



8 responses

9 02 2007


Nice words, nice photos, nicely presented. gG

10 02 2007

That *almost* makes me want to have another baby. I miss those cute fingers and toes.

And that sounds like a really neat Bible study. I love the idea of adding in artistic expression.

Jen T.

11 02 2007

And who said all you ever needed to know you learned in kindergarten?

Isn’t it amazing how much we can learn from children – even when they can’t even talk yet! I love what you learned and am so thankful you shared it!
Tina H

12 02 2007

Beautiful Concept!

I love these pictures and the concept! This was the “Blessed” that impacted me the most at first, but then I got to thinking and being laser-beamed by ALL of them and just couldn’t choose.

I particularly liked the pic of Eli attempting to hold the cards and them spilling out onto his chubby little feet. In the end, he’s only able to hold onto one solitary card. That’s quite descriptive of me too. I so often want to whine and complain about the hand I’ve been dealt, when truthfully, I can’t even manage to hold all the cards I’m complaining about! I need to take my cue from Eli. Sit, drool, enjoy. -Erin

13 02 2007

Re: yee-haw!

Yes, but not as nice as you, gG. xo

13 02 2007

It makes me want grandchildren. Cuddle them, photograph them, laugh at their funny faces, kiss their toes, send them home. A perfect world. 🙂

13 02 2007

Re: And who said all you ever needed to know you learned in kindergarten?

Thanks, Tina. No doubt your own little live-in teacher keeps you busy learning all the time. She’s so precious.

13 02 2007

Re: Beautiful Concept!

Thanks, Erin. I had a little trouble deciding which photo to upload for the study. So much of what Eli did reminded me how much I take for granted. I just love the idea of tasting and exploring life to the full, trusting God’s goodness.

Sit, drool, enjoy. That’s a philosophy I can get behind. 🙂

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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