Birth is a time that gives us the space to look back. Where have we come from? Matthew’s gospel begins with Jesus’ lineage - where he has come from. And with each name there is a story, a life laden with struggles and joys. A life that intertwines with many others. In the absences of the women in those families, we can imagine the other lives and struggles that brought sons into the world to continue the lineage.
How have I come into the world?
Who has brought me here?
What joys, struggles and hopes have brought me to life?
Exploring these questions sometimes means encountering darkness along with the light. Families hold trauma and despair alongside joys in their life. How we each came to be is rarely a straight line and always fraught with difficulties of many kinds.
Birth also calls us into imaginative hope:
What will become of this new life?
How will this new life touch others?
How will God be made known through this new life?
Birth creates the liminal space between the past and the future, binding in the moment all that comes together to create a new life and the hope for what may be, the possibility to imagine anything. I look at my children and marvel at what they have become. I often give thanks for their father and the miracle that we’ve found each other and created new life from our love. I imagine how they will grow and who they will become. I try to recognize that I can help form them, but I cannot protect them from everything. And that is okay. I commit myself to being with them in their own moments of birth, to let them never forget whose they are and that they will never move forward alone.
I look at this moment in my life. I give thanks for those who have loved and formed me, who have challenged me, who have held and cared for me. I hold the things and the people that have hurt me, sometimes too tightly. I hold my own sins and wrongdoings. I keep working toward letting them go, little by little. I am getting better at taking the next step and embracing my joy, cultivating it lovingly.
I also know that whatever I imagine, it will be both more and less, better and worse. I also know God will be in all of it. And I know that just as Mary, Joseph, Anna, Joachim, those who came before and after, touched that moment of birth in between again and again. As will we.
What has brought me here? How is God inviting me to bring more light into the world? To remember that my birth and life, like Mary’s, is a means to bring Jesus into the world. To remember how God is with me. That through our lives and our moments of birth, we can continue to discover how God is with us.