Monthly Archives: December 2015

O Holy Night

Every birth is holy.

Theologians can wax eloquent about the Incarnation; but only a midwife lives in the world of birth.

This work that I am graced to do is holy.  Every time.  In homes,  I am privileged now to move and breathe with women as they do the dance of labor.  I have welcomed babies in hospital, birth center, and home settings.  In each space, I am a guardian, protecting the space for a woman to find her primal instincts.  But in the privacy of her own space, there are fewer distractions.  

The veil between Heaven and earth is very thin. 

There was a birth, quite famous, that took place in a more rustic setting.  We have done births in big houses, in little houses, in apartments, in a hotel, and once in a tiny house that had once been a truck weigh station.  But never have I midwifed a birth in a stable.  Dogs and cats have gathered near, drawn by the mystery; eerily accurate in their knowledge that “it is time”.  Did the “ox and ass” know too?  

I get calls to say “it is time” from the women, from grandmas, from doulas and dads.  Angels called this one.  They knew the time.  Angels often have to say out loud “do not fear”.  In every birth, we have to remind each other to not be afraid.  Fear comes in the door to a birth space, changing the cascade of hormones.  We usher it back out again, reminding ourselves and the mother, “be at peace…all is well“.

Women find themselves pregnant at all ages, young and old.  I work with teen mamas, whose lives are changing in every way.  I work with mamas who have battled infertility, and mamas who have had only a short space to say hello and goodbye to other babies.  Some Mamas are surprised by this pregnancy, and other mamas have waited a long while.  This mama was young, and very surprised.  
And Heaven watched.  The stillness was more pronounced that night, the veil extra thin. 

A baby was born.

“I’m dreaming of a _____Christmas”

What swirls at Christmas time?

The Christmas carols sing of snow, smells of cinnamon and cocoa.  Laughter and memories build like snowdrifts, enveloping the house in a snug blanket of joy.  Red and green are everywhere, candy striped holiday colors.

But this is the desert.  In our house we have children who have experienced trauma.  The memories that swirl may not have words, or even accessible memories attached.  It is more like bumping into furniture in a dark house.  

The grownups carry their own stories around Christmas too.  My father-in-law died at Christmas, on our four month anniversary.  Those muted colors have permeated each Christmas since, with swirls of grey instead of the traditional red and green.  I asked Jesus once why Christmas Eve was so hard, and was gifted with a childhood story of violence.  Not your traditional gift, to be sure; but precious nonetheless.  A memory that is given is now mine to hold, with kindness and compassion.  No more furniture in the dark…

So what does it look like to gift my family with curiosity at Christmas?  Not about the gifts under the tree, but about these other colors swirling in and around.  Is there a place for kindness “in the middle of”?  How do you show up in this way? I would love to hear your thoughts….

Right now, everybody is having a half hour of alone space.  I am hoping there is a “reset” button!  But perhaps not.  Maybe the reset is to live present, today, at Christmastime.  Red and green and grey, maybe with a sparkle of silver.  

The rabbit house

Space in the middle.

Isn’t that what we long for in advent?  Space to breathe, to think, to feel, to BE.  

I wonder if the spaces aren’t already there?  (A double negative, to give pause).  How often do I fill up a space, when it opens?  The vacuum of the endless list of “to do” sucks in any stillness, almost audibly.  What if, I let the unexpected spaces just BE?

Today I am in the “rabbit house” (not the dog house!)…  A tiny space provided by a near stranger given for me to rest in while I pick up my daughter from college.  Space to breathe, to BE, in the middle.  This is a season where God is stirring my heart to fight for justice in new ways, in bold ways.  In the midst of that stirring,  I am so grateful:  for moments of joy that imprint on my heart, for moments (or hours, or days) free of pain, for a bird that sings outside this little hut.  

I have been coloring this Advent.  It slows my brain, readies it for sleep.  I could wash a few more dishes, or answer an email, or sign off a chart.  Or I could color…with a cup of tea.

I wonder what moments are opening for you?  I would love to hear, as you notice; as the Spirit gives you space to just BE.

Advent writings: the longing

Being a midwife brings joy and sorrow, some days in equal measure.

My son said my face looked severe while I was driving home today.  I was feeling grief for someone.  Faces radiating  joy and and others etched with sorrow; held gently in my heart.  I told him it is because I get to live life full on as a midwife with the women I walk with…

This is Advent.  

The “yes” that resonates through the ages, and the long wait of longings that ache to be fulfilled.

Three Hanukkah candles burned tonight alongside two advent lights, for hope and peace.  Rich symbols, handed down through the centuries; but new to my table.  I need the symbols this year.

I burn the candles for mamas who ache to hold their babies.  Candles for babies who grow in homes where violence is an everyday reality.  For sisters who find the color of their skin or style of clothing slams doors shut, or worse, before they can open even a crack.  Candles for churches that should be safe spaces, where abuse happens. Candles for the ancient cry of a people afraid to name their heritage lest they be annihilated.  Candles for peace, where there is no peace.  Candles for hope when the very word echoes as a bold cry against evil.  Candles for those who dare to speak when everything screams to silence their voice. 

As we lit the candle of peace the children talked about a bumper sticker they saw today:  “when the power of love is stronger than the love of power there will be peace on earth.”

May there be peace.  And let it begin with me.

The Advent writings:  Voice.  Vox.  Voz.  

“To speak for those who have no voice…”

The phrase from one of my affirmations guides me.  

Silenced.  How was I silenced?  I asked God once.  Don’t ask those questions unless you want an answer.  

How were you silenced?  

If you sit in church (Big C Church) and look around, what do you see?  I wonder how many of those people singing have experienced some form of being silenced? 

Hymns are being redeemed one by one for me.  Tonight I was listening to “the advent project” and the meditation on Mary, her extraordinary question to the angel.  The music was an old hymn:  Take my voice and let me sing, always, only for my King.  Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee…”  (Frances Havergal)  I can still hear it with piano in the background, all five verses, part of the “invitation”.  

I hear it differently now.  My voice…

What happens when Jesus breaks silence?

Spotlight

 

“connect the dots…”
 
Have you seen it? 

The movie “spotlight” is a powerful voice in the long overdue work of giving voice to victims of sexual abuse.  It addresses the issue with respect, with courage, and with relentless curiosity.  What came out at the end of the day  was far bigger than anyone ever expected.

This is not a movie about the evils of the Catholic church.  It could be any church.  It could be any school.  It could be any city.  

It is a movie about silence.  And it is a movie about the systems that uphold that silence.  

Because the reality is:  it is my church, my school, my city.  It is, in fact, my story.

Where does the path lead? And who will have the courage to connect the dots?

Will you?  Will I?