Elli’s grandma and aunt read this poem at Elli’s memorial service. It was sent to us by a friend, from another friend who had lost a child recently. It expresses well the way we understand parenthood — that we are stewards of the children in our families, not their owners, and that God gives them to us to raise for a time.

God’s Lent Child
by Florence Correa

I’ll lend you for a little while a child of mine, God said,
For you to love her while she lives, and mourn for when she’s dead.

It may be six or seven years, or forty-two or three;
But will you, till I call her back, take good care of her for me?

I’ll bring her charms to gladden you, and should her stay be brief,
You’ll have the lovely memories as a solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth return;
But there are lessons taught below I want this child to learn.

I’ve searched the whole world over, for teachers kind and true;
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lane I have chosen you…

Now will you give her all your love? Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me should the angels call, to take this child back again?

To which the parents did reply, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joys thy child will bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter her with tenderness, We’ll love her while we may…
For all the love this child will bring, forever grateful we will stay.

But should the Angels call for her much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.