I find myself praying today for a friend’s imminent childbirth. Giving birth is such a thin place, where we join in creation and fall simultaneously. It’s a miraculous space: liminal—in-between. The father, mother, and child, pass through a limen—a doorway—from unknown to known and from known to unknown. There is a change in “I am-ness” to each participant—even for every sibling and every grandparent.
When my first grandchild was born, I stood at the head of the bed and experienced the miracle unfolding. I saw my dear daughter rock in pain with contractions and reach in joy for her new writhing, crying, little human-gift. I observed the furrowed brow, outstretched hand, and deep concern of my son-in-law at bedside; then the outrageous excitement of seeing the emergence from dark to light of his firstborn, Hazel—with a holy hush followed by one last push.
When my second grandchild, Julian, was born, I stayed at home with Hazel. It was a different kind of vigil—from far away. It was hard not being present and I was grateful to God and His sure presence with me and with my daughter simultaneously, and His constant bent-ear, listening for our intercessions and supplications. I wrestled with the thought that my daughter would need to struggle with pain, maybe blood, and difficulty for this birth, and I recalled the reason that the Bible gives to aid in answering all, no, most, of my questions.
The night before Julian’s entrance, I birthed the following thoughts. I pray they might help you or your loved one in grappling with, and entering past the veil into, this angel-filled, Trinity-immersed, Cloud of unknowing which we encounter at the emergence of every new life…if we have eyes to see.
As we turn toward this event
This liminal passage—
A new life liminal passage—
We remember that You Lord, are a Parent
A Father and “Mother” to a boy, Adam and girl, Eve
Formed long ago in the womb of your garden,
“born” into your household.
And even before that
(really not before, but always)
Your only Son—begotten, not made—of one Being with You.
But there came a fall—
Jack and Jill tumbled
And pain in childbirth came,
Not the original plan,
But a consequence.
So now we embark on a new in-between space
One that, despite our knowledge and advancements, will likely bring some
“Like the pains of childbirth,” we often say:
A groaning of earth in an Eve-like form.
We come here through remembering also that you overshadowed blessed Mary—
Dripping in Eve-ness—
To bring hope and healing
To bring back full joy and to ease the pain of Eden’s losses.
And with your Husband eyes[i]
And Father eyes
And Maternal eyes[ii]
You oversaw it all:
The angelic visitation,
The miraculous implantation,
The weaving together of God and man
Who would be Adam 2
Who would be Your precious, deeply-loved Son.
You watched the journey,
The placenta pulling away
In the birthing room
That was a stable.
You sent shepherds and wise men for the baby shower.
You watched as the wet, crying and cooing boy emerged from the nine-month hiddenness.
You sent angels to say,
“Do not be afraid!”
You said, “My peace I give to you.”
And, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
And so we pray to You—
Who are a Father
And a Son
And have a maternal heart
And are a great Physician
And a Summoner of angels.
We look to You
To bring the Light –Da la Luz!
Of Your presence
We ask for safety for all during labor and journey through the underwater tangles, the unknown, the Red Sea’s partings, little Julian’s exodus into this world.
We look to You.
We trust in Your great love,
In Your deep knowing—conocimiento—that is owned by a Parent’s heart and soul and body.
In Your Son Jesus’, name,
[i] Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is His bride.
[ii] Many places in the Bible God is portrayed as having motherly affection and care:
God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Is. 66:13
God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Is. 49:15
God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself, now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” Is. 42:14
Jesus said, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matt. 23:37 and Luke 13:34