waiting in womb-time

Pregnant women inhabit time in a whole new way.

I’m 20 weeks, we declare.

As if we were the child within us. As if we were the time itself.

Our relationship to these womb-weeks is totalizing. Time means everything: how much time the baby needs, how much time we have left.

But womb time is also unique, unfolding inside chronological time, tucked into the calendars that define our lives. Any attempt to translate the calculation is imperfect: more than 9 months, less than 40 weeks. Every due date is a guess.

This time is hidden, humbling, and holy. It shows us how to wait.

What does womb time teach us about Advent, a sacred season of waiting?

Womb time is dark. We cannot peel back skin to peer inside. Even high-tech glimpses via ultrasound are shadowy and grainy. We see as through a mirror, darkly, until we see face to face.

Womb time is vulnerable. Early weeks are shrouded in anxiety, even secret. Later months bring their own tenderness: shifting symptoms, strange pains, fears for birth. Nothing is guaranteed, only hoped.

Womb time is mysterious. This is time and space for transformation, like spring seeds in rich soil. We wonder what happens below the surface. We have to trust that waiting will be enough.

Womb time is beyond our control. We cannot speed up or slow down this growing time. We cannot demand that weeks bend to our wants or whims. We can only witness its passing and live into its present.

Womb time leads to life, but ultimately to death. Kathleen Norris wrote, “One of the most astonishing and precious things about motherhood is the brave way in which women consent to give birth to creatures who will one day die.” We cannot protect ourselves or our child from this truth.

Yet life demands womb time. None of us would be here without it.

Advent is all of these things. Dark, vulnerable, mysterious. Beyond our control. Bearing life and death.

What if we inhabited this sacred season in the same way?

I’m 1 week. I’m 2 weeks. I’m 3 weeks.

What if we let this time define us, potent and pregnant with possibility? What if we surrendered to the truth that we cannot control chronos, but we can choose to inhabit kairos?

Being pregnant during Advent – many times now! – has brought me to wonder about the work of waiting. How God grew. How Mary carried eternal weight. How the divine delights in what is small and unseen.

Every Advent is an invitation to return to this time. We inhabit these weeks anew, in awe and unknowing.

What the end of this womb time will bring, we can only hope and pray. Walking through weeks together. Waiting to be surprised by joy.

Enter into the waiting, womb time beckons. Forget the chocolates tucked in the cardboard calendar, the stacks of cards to address, the last-minute presents to buy.

Let the weight of these last slow, dark weeks – rolling within us, moving below the surface – teach us how to wait.

In wonder, in mystery, in quiet awe.

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  1. Elisa Schneider on 16 December 2019 at 10:17 am

    Stunning. Thank you, Laura, again for the words of wisdom.

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