Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease.
The lyrics from Oh holy night are my heart cry this year. For myself, in this home; and in our land. Never have I been so aware of a time where fear and hatred rule the day.
I picked up tamales tonight from a dear one this afternoon and felt the terror looming for the uncertainty of the change if power in January. And so we eat them, recognizing that this gift is as sacred as the breaking of the bread. These are our brothers and sisters who awake each day in fear. This is My Body, broken….
And so tonight we remember an immigrant family long ago would flee to Egypt the day after the baby was born. Not what I would recommend for one day postpartum as a midwife!
I am deeply aware as well of my own need this year. The car accident a year ago represented for me the fragility of life. And the shockwaves that continue to move out from that day keep it in front of me.
And so for tonight, I will hold the goodness of the traditions that weave the years together. We are family, in the middle of.
And so, I will go to the airport and our nest will be full. And we will welcome the night with pajamas and the morning with cinnamon rolls, hot from the oven.
We will eat our tamales, and give thanks, and cry for mercy.
When you think about starting out a new relationship, Mary and Joseph sure got thrown in the deep end!
Strict dating rules, a betrothal, a long distance relationship without cell phone service, a sudden return, scandal and gossip, breaking up, and a nighttime angelic visitor. What a beginning!
And that doesn’t count a donkey ride in the middle of prodromal labor! Seriously?! Not one of my midwifery clients would sign up for that.
I love how the Nativity movie portrays the growing love and respect between this young couple. It is inviting to consider this home that Jesus grew up in. They needed that foundation! They were about to become immigrants, and just have each other; perhaps in a land that did not want them. Not so different from our precious immigrant families I get to do life with.
This is a hard season for us in many ways. The holidays, always; my father-in-law died our first Christmas as a young couple. But this year has been a hard season on so many levels.
I am so grateful for the love and respect in our marriage and home, which undergirds this unknown path. This young couple, married 29 years last August, got thrown in the deep end too.
This Advent, may there be space to remember the journey. Theirs and ours….
I said goodbye to a precious friend today. Not the long goodbye, as C.S. Lewis says; but a goodbye nonetheless. And goodbyes are full of grief. They hold the not knowing and the not yet together in equal measure. They weave longing and loneliness into a braid of beauty and pain.
I wonder what it was like for Mary, holding a baby that she knew would move beyond her. Was there an ache mixed with the joy of watching him play? And then he stayed around longer than expected perhaps… 30 years. He left home to go be with a bunch of friends, new friends really. They were going to go travel the country without a real plan. Rumors came back, bits and pieces of stories. They probably seemed much bigger than life. And in the middle of the wondering, always the ache.
So much of the story is not told. Perhaps there is beauty in the mystery.
So for today, I choose to hold the not knowing. I will trust that the beauty will come as the story unfolds. And dare to hold the ache of goodbye.
Photo Credit Kate Wilder
Darkness and Light.
Waiting and Coming.
Sorrow and Hope.
Death and …
We hold so much at Christmas. All of that not knowing, together with the not yet.
I am a desert girl, mostly. A turtleneck in the morning, just because. And then a/c when kids get in the car. Desert kids don’t understand winter. Therefore, they can’t know the mystery of spring, of green shoots pushing up through the snow. In Phoenix, we force bulbs. We put them in the refrigerator drawer for “winter” and then take them out to let them know it’s spring. A tiny shoot begins, stretching up bit by bit, reaching for the light.
I am still sitting with this poem I shared recently, letting it work it’s way in deeper, one line at a time. Today it’s the “tiny shoot”.
The poem was born from a midwife (Advent, by Sister Christine Schenk).
With quickened hope
For crooked paths to straighten,
With tough-soul’d anguish,
Keepers of the keys
(If such a thing were possible).
And will not be
For tiny shoot
Of Jesse tree
Took root in me.
The tiny shoot.
Toward the light.
with quickened hope
for crooked paths to straighten,
with tough-soul’d anguish,
while blinded keepers of the keys
shut out God’s own.
(If such a thing were possible.)
and will not be dismayed.
For tiny shoot of Jesse tree
took root in me.
(Advent. By Sr. Christine Schenk. A midwife)
I have been bathing in the waters of hospital birth again, this time in a new role. I put on the white coat, with its instant prestige. I put on the title, reluctantly: “Professor Wilder”. I notice I am more comfortable with my first name. I am so aware that the kind of birth I get to do at home is 1% in our country. This 99% is the norm. Full of risk, adrenaline, and hurry, and occasional moments of goodness….the babies are born. There are redeeming moments: the nurse who goes the extra mile, the Doctor who dares to trust, the student nurse who has eyes to see. For this reason, I enter; to offer my gifts.
And yet, I am so aware of the stark contrast. The precious spaces I get to hold in the home with mamas are thick with the sense of the holy.
There was another birth done in a way that was also countercultural. Even then, you didn’t birth in the barn. And yet the sense of the holy was thick, even there.
And so we come to Advent.
We invite the holy.
And we wait.