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. Yet no matter what bumps we encounter along the road to keeping babies well-fed, it’s the all-consuming-ness that can feel most overwhelming. How often newborns need to eat. How long it takes to feed them. How their needs never follow a neat schedule. It’s no exaggeration to say that baby’s hunger sets the pace for the rest of life spinning around it. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to … [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?