Advent is a season of strange stories and wonder-full waiting. Angels. Dreams. Miraculous pregnancies. Surprising visitors. But in a season of powerful Scripture and symbols - light, darkness, watching, waiting - we can forget that the first Advent was embodied, too. Without pregnancy and birth - messy, physical experiences - Christmas could not have happened. What can bearing, birthing, and caring for babies teach us about the Incarnation? How might pregnancy, labor, and nursing shape our understanding of God becoming human? A few of my favorite questions. Turns out I can't stop thinking about them this time of year. . . . For ten years now, I've been pregnant or nursing during December. (That realization alone was enough to startle me.) A decade of Advents spent in changed relationship to my body as it expanded and contracted, filled and emptied, nourished and nurtured new life into being. Becoming a mother through these biological experiences changed my spiritual … [Read more...] about a decade of waiting: Advent in the body
With a summer baby we slip into bed while the sun is setting behind the hill and we wake up when the sky is already bathed with light. And still we haven’t slept a solid stretch. Because all night he is nursing. All day and all night and all the hours in what feels like the one long day since he was born. Feeding the baby is a full-time job. On the surface it seems a simple response to a simple need. You hear the hungry cry. You offer breast or bottle. But nursing newborns has never been easy as pie for me. Sam had to get a hefty dose of antibiotics right after birth and wound up with a raging case of thrush that we passed back and forth for four months. (My whole body still shudders to think about it.) Thomas started off with a terrible latch that led to all kinds of bleeding and crying (mine, not his). And poor little Joseph came into the world tongue-tied. So we’re still waiting to round the corner to that magical moment where every feeding ceases to be Toe-Curling Pain and … [Read more...] about spiritual practices with newborns: feeding
When I was a child, I got obsessed with figuring out what we all had in common. Call it the curse of Catholic school. All those lessons on how we’re all made in God’s image. I remember riding home on the bus, swinging my skinny legs off the sticky vinyl seat, trying to figure out exactly what that meant – what magical thing we all had in common that made us reflect God. First I decided it must be eyes. Everyone had eyes, I figured. And you learned a lot from someone by looking at their eyes. So maybe that’s what we all had, that made us in the image of God. But then my grade school self remembered pictures from National Geographic of people with disfigured faces, people who might be born without eyes, or might have eyes that didn’t work. That didn’t seem very image-of-God-like. I scratched eyes from my list. Next was arms. I was pretty sure everyone had – nope, then I remembered that man on TV with no arms, playing his guitar for the pope. He had to be made in God’s image. Arms … [Read more...] about what’s the soul of a parent?
A Prayer for Nursing An Older Baby: God of nurturing love, Trying to nurse this squirmy worm of a growing baby has become a daily wrestling match. Each time we snuggle into the rocking chair together, I grow frustrated with how quick he is to push away, holler in protest, lunge towards anything more interesting than his mother. Long-gone are the sleepy newborn days when he would curl contentedly in my lap. As he begins to crawl, the world is his to explore; he can’t scoot out of my arms quick enough for his curiosity. Help me to give of myself with love and patience. Turn my eyes from the clock to my child, from my chronos schedule to your kairos moment. Let me rejoice in his eagerness; let me celebrate his growing. So many adventures await him – let my love for him be a reflection of your great love for us, steady and faithful no matter how far and wide we roam. Thank you for the gift of nursing him. When my frustrations grow high and my temper grows short, let me remember … [Read more...] about praying the particulars: nursing an older baby