December 10, 2010

maternal longing...

I cannot escape pregnancy these days. 

As blogger Traci Bianchi reminds us: The Christmas story is dripping with estrogen. 

And not only that... but the Advent story as well.  As we wait for the coming of Christ once again, we are pregnant with hope and anticipation... we hear rumors of wars and feel the earth shaking and everything in turmoil and yet we are reminded in Mark 13:8 that all of these troubles are but the birth pangs of the new creation. 

Pregnant, waiting, in pain, fleshy, joyful, anxious.

In our Wednesday evening Advent services we have been using a number of materials from The Work of the People.  The first two video reflections have both reminded us of just how incarnate God became.  As we heard the announcement to Mary of the child in her womb... we watched a woman in delivery, having contractions.  We watched her heavy breathing and her labored movements.  We saw the pained look on her face as the angel's words came through... "Do not be afraid, Mary."  "I am your servant" was her response .

I have seen sonogram images of friends who are newly expecting.  I received with immense joy the news that I would get to be an aunt again next summer.  As the holiday season has progressed I have held babies and changed diapers and comforted those who were crying. 

And inside of me is stirred up a deep, deep longing.  The longing to be a mother, myself.

Sometimes Advent and Christmas come and go and we don't feel any different, but I have found this year that my experience of the season has been deep and holy this year.  I have found that this longing to be a mother parallels my waiting for the coming Christ. 

Maybe it brings the season into a sharper view, because I feel it so intensely.  So personally.  We've been waiting forever for the Messiah to come again and sometimes we let it slip into the background.  We get busy with our day to day lives and figure it will come when it comes.

But when another longing takes hold... we are reminded of what it feels like to truly wait.  To desire something so much. We are reminded that there are some things that we seek so much that it does consume our thoughts... it takes over those day to day activities.  It changes how we see the world.

I see babies everywhere these days.  I cannot help it.  My entire perspective has shifted.  I notice the glow on an expecting mothers face.  I watched those images of the woman in labor and heard the words of the angel speaking to Mary and I began to tear up. 

But in the midst of my very personal, very selfish, biological clock going haywire... I also have looked around with eyes that see the pain in this world.  The hurt that so many experience.  And my inward longing has turned outward as I want so much for this whole creation to be set right, to be restored, to be made new. 

On Twitter, the hashtag #waiting2010 has helped me to share those longings.  I join others in prayer as we waiting for the day when violence will end and disease will be no more.  We wait for the day when understanding will be the norm and when the Prince of Peace will rule. 

My husband is not yet ready for kids.  He may never be. And if I am honest with myself, perhaps I'm not yet ready for the dramatic ways my life will be different when/if we bring someone into this world.  The simple fact is: for us, right now, the answer to the children question is, "no."  That answer brings me great sadness. 

And yet, in this season of longing and emptiness, in this season of waiting... I am turning towards those things that I can say yes to.  I can say yes to hope.  I can say yes to peace.  I can say yes to joy.  I can say yes to love.  I can reach out to others with my life and my actions and give all I have to them. 

Maybe God has something in store for us.  Maybe being childless will help me minister in different ways.  Maybe my hopes and longings will be fulfilled.  All I know is that I wait. And I trust that God will be with me.  I am not afraid.

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