Over one year ago, Nate and I packed our car for the hospital, drove down the road from our new house at Camp Zephyr, to the camp office where our new Zephyr family prayed over us. It's one of my absolute favorite memories of the day Eli Griffin came into the world. It was a beautiful, comforting moment. I was scared, though not admittedly, of the planned c-section. It wasn't my first. Who knows if it's my last. But at that moment, I was anxious, and those fears were lessened greatly while our new Z family prayed over us. (They also made a bet on how big this kid was going to be when he made his entrance to the world...I forget who won..)
We had moved to Zephyr only weeks before. And those weeks had flown by. They were full of doctor visits, flu striking us all down, Photizo 2013, unpacking and everything else that comes with the demands of settling into a new home and way of life. We had left our little blue house in the city, a mere five minutes from our church and closest friends, and moved an hour into the Texas country to a camp that we loved and believed our path lay. It was a rocky few weeks with lots of weeping moments for this tired, very pregnant wife. My two oldest were gracious and generous with their undying love for their mama though. To them we had moved to a wonderland of dirt mounds to play in and trees to climb. Freedom was at their fingertips and they made the transition to Zephyr smooth as could be.
It was in this ease that I foresaw a gentle transition from two boys to three. I knew that having a third child would change everything, but I was certain that the change would be easy and welcome. I was amazed that God saw me fit to bear a third son. Three sons? Three boys that will one day grow into men who will change the world? Three sons to raise into good husbands, fathers, brothers, friends. Three sons to share the love and light of Jesus with.
I was not beyond this honor. I still am baffled about this today, as I sit in the quiet of the evening pondering my third son's recent birthday. Wesley is building and dreaming and speaking life into his Legos. Spencer is curled up watching one of our many Pixar films. And my third son sleeps, sweetly and soundly, not knowing what a source of joy and peace he is to so many around him.
So here I share why we named our third son Eli Griffin.
Nate and I could not agree on a name. I desperately wanted to name my children hippie names. Or at the very least literary names like Huxley or Kingsley. I might have thrown Bastian and Atreyu in there once or twice. But to my intense, maybe over-dramatic dismay, my husband would not cave. So we wrestled with names for months. I can't even recall the horrible suggestions we came up with. Not one seemed to fit. I ought to share with you that we are not people who "wait" for the child. We need the name before we go to the hospital. We NEED the name. No rational explanation. Just a strange need that we both agree on. We also are not one for surprises. So we don't care about hiding names or genders or whatever. Sharing is caring, right?
The morning we were scheduled to deliver, we still hadn't discovered a name. We had been toying with the name Eli Griffin for a while. We just hadn't felt like it was him. Eli is one of those names that has been in the hat through every pregnancy. Along with Jasper and Simon. Sticking true to tradition, the first name was really just a name we liked. There wasn't any special meaning to it, just as Wesley and Spencer were both names we enjoyed, but not altogether something with great meaning. We may have heard of characters from books, movies, authors, musicians, etc with these names before, but none held any special place with us. We just truly enjoyed these first name choices. We decided on his name as we were pulling into the parking lot of the hospital. We said "Eli Griffin it is" and gave each other a high five. Then Nate received a message from my friend in Oregon who confirmed that I had a ticket with my name on it to Hutchmoot 2013. I squeaked with delight on both counts. (Hutchmoot is another story for another day)
Yes, the first names are loved, but it is in the middle names for which the meaning is great for our children. The story is special. The history is appreciated. Wesley's middle name is for my father's middle name. He has always had such a special relationship with his Poppy. It makes sense that a part of my dad should be in the naming of his first grandson. Nathan won my heart, so I took his name with much joy, but I wanted a piece of my father's name in my eldest boy. Spencer's middle name is for C.S. Lewis, a sort of grandfatherly figure to both Nate and I. We love the heart of Lewis and his wisdom has been a big part of our journey to serve and love Jesus better. I cannot speak of Narnia without getting chills. Thanks for that, Jack.
So now I am left with Eli and where the name Griffin was born. Several friends who know my love of the Harry Potter story accused me of naming him for Gryffindor House (my own house had I been born into the magical world of Harry). As cute as that thought might be, it is not the case. I would have named him Eli Gryffin with a 'y'. #teamgryffindor (just had to throw that in there...Nate is a hufflepuff.) No. Griffin comes from a book. Of course it does. It comes from my most re-read book in my library. I can nearly quote it by heart. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. Really. A fairy tale. A favorite fairy tale of mine, in fact. My top three favorite fairy tales being the Story of Rapunzel, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast. But this fantastic retelling by Robin McKinley caught the attention of twelve year old me when I was in my most swoony, romantic tweeny stage. I used to draw roses over and over and over again as I daydreamed about the peaceful, gentle, beautiful prince that would win my chaotic and dramatic heart. It's no secret that my nature is one of adventure and drama. I am Beauty in the flesh. Awkward and swoony and yearning for adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell.
Thankfully, I married a man who balances my flighty, dramatic, dreamy, adventuring spirit with peace and gentleness. And this peace is where I drew the name Griffin from.
In the story, the first frightful encounter that Beauty's father has with the Beast ends in the promise that father would return to the castle with one of his daughters in a month's time. Upon his return to the family, they discover the Beast has sent saddlebags full of gifts for everyone. Candlesticks, money, jewels, and clothes. One gift that Beauty receives is a golden ring in the shape of a griffin. Throughout the story she wears it, carries it in her pocket, sleeps near it at night. It comforts her as she prepares for this new adventure, one that she is ready for. The symbol of the griffin is shared again and again throughout the story and it is always used as a symbol of comfort and peace.
"I hadn't worn the griffin ring since the first night, but I had begun carrying it in a pocket. I found that I didn't like leaving it in my room, that I kept thinking about it; I was comforted in some obscure fashion when I carried it with me: It was a token of my future; I read it as a good omen." -Beauty, part 2, chapter 2It is in this that the name Griffin holds special meaning for me, a source of peace and comfort. I was scared to be pregnant again. To be expecting a third boy. But I was excited and comforted at the honor to do so. To be able to be pregnant at all is something I don't ever want to take for granted. Having Eli is a gift that I am in awe of. Seeing Spencer celebrate his role as a big brother is wonderful to experience. Wesley is such a natural daddy, I'm grateful to witness him blossom as the eldest boy. In a world of uncertainty and chaos, I get to experience true life and light with my family. Through heartache and sorrow, loss and shame, we get to experience peace and comfort. Our family isn't immune from pain. It isn't immune from sadness and grief. But we have reminders everyday to have peace.
So that was the story of how my darling Eli Griffin was named.