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
Two years ago, I had two hearts beating beneath my own. Twins. I was overwhelmed most of the pregnancy, to be honest. Worry multiplies with multiples. How would we care for two babies at once? What would life look like with five kids? Deeper, darker questions slid underneath, slimy and squirming. How could I love them all well? Would I lose myself? I worried about the wrong things. Most of us do, most of the time. Two weeks later, their tiny hearts were beating outside my body. Each fighting to keep pumping: one with too much blood, one with too little. Trapped inside giant isolettes, wrapped in plastic and tubes, poked and prodded, too much and too little. Neither heart strong enough to survive. A week later we held two tiny urns. Hearts to ashes. . . . Everyone we love will die. Of course you don't want to read that; I don't want to write it; no one wants to believe it. But it is truth. Can we hold it between steady hands? Look it straight in … [Read more...] about when hearts become ashes
I have two items on my to-do list that I can’t get done: Order gravestone. Buy car seat. Every week they stare back at me blankly from my planner. Five simple words. One phone call to make. One purchase to click. Every week I turn away. I can’t tackle either one. (Yet.) Both must get done. Ideally before the new baby is born. But limbo—the in-between place, caught nowhere, trapped by circumstances beyond control—is a strange, shifting, liminal space. . . . Here is a truth I did not know about pregnancy after loss. You are caught between life and death the whole time. You do not round a comforting corner. Not like passing the 12-week mark after miscarriage when you start to let out the breath you’ve been holding. Not after babies have taken their last breaths in your arms. You look at one simple to-do: buy car seat. And you cannot do it, because of what came before. Order gravestone. How can I assume I will bring a healthy baby home from the hospital? How … [Read more...] about leaving behind limbo
This week we remembered the anniversaries of Maggie and Abby's births and deaths. As I journeyed through the three days, a brutal triduum, I began to see how deepest grief can take the shape of the paschal mystery. Dying and rising. As the first year after loss ends, I find myself turning toward new directions. I will not be writing only honest grief in this space; there are new callings. So as Lent begins, this feels a fitting end to what the last year has been. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. . . . Birth. It is the beginning of the scar, the longest on my body. The scalpel that sliced through stomach, layers of skin and muscle, to pull two tiny babies into the world. They are too small to cry. But I do, quiet tears streaming down my face. My arms cannot wipe them away, strapped down and stretched out to both sides. This surgery is cruciform; nurses do not tell you that in pre-op. Then again, how could they possibly prepare you? Did anyone … [Read more...] about was it a holy week?