By Susanne Timpani
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2:6-7)
|Andrea Previtali (c. 1480 –1528)|
Today's scripture describes an intimate scene which has captivated artists and story-tellers for generations. It provides a glimpse of the humility, intimacy and joy which surround the birth of Jesus.
Working as a night midwife, I always found it easier to maintain a calm labour room at night rather than the day. The 'sound and light show' of hospital chaos ceases to operate overnight. The lights of the birthing room are dimmed and the focus is on creating a state of calm for the troubled hours the labouring mother faces.
Contractions are like waves from the ocean. As they build, the women's groans increase, reach a crescendo and fall away. It is the midwife's role to ensure the calm in between remains calm. Contractions are like breaths, in and out. When the midwife and the mother work together, this focus on breathing makes the pains more manageable. Following hours of intense and ever increasing waves, the relationship between the midwife and the mother deepens.
When the labour is over, and a wet slippery body emerges, the bubble between the mother and midwife bursts. It's at this point that I always became aware that my job was done. It's time for the newborn to connect with their mother. Once the after-birth is out, I pile everything on to the trolley and wheel it out, leaving behind the family to adjust to their new life.
As we read today's verse, allow the Word to seep into our spirit and bring us into that place of intimacy. Does it say something to us that we have never considered before?