This column is from a mother who relates her own experiences of giving birth to her understanding of God as wild, untidy, uncontrollable, and about glorious love. It is a very moving piece.
I am frequently drawn to these stories of childbirth as stories that shed light on God and the sacred… stories that talk about the holiness of mothers and infants. I am drawn to them, even though my own mother is disturbed and unkind. I am drawn to them even though I never intend to have children. I am drawn to them even after spending years working at a job that focused on dead infants.
Advent and Christmas are my favorite times of the liturgical year because they are so specifically and overwhelmingly about the goodness of bodies, of flesh. They are about a pregnancy and a birth. Even though I don’t intend to have one myself, I know enough about them to know how they are connected to my own body’s glorious, messy beauty, and that of my lovers’ bodies. Flesh is uncontrollable, creative, and sacred.
Fear of flesh has led to many, many years of trying to control it, sanitize it, curtail its capacities for pleasure and connection. The typical images of Christmas (and the suffocating overlay of commercialism) try to keep this messy embodiment of the Holy under wraps, behind tidy virgins and perfect beds of hay for infants to sleep on, untouched. But Life is always about to break through the tidy veneer. Stories like the one in the link above remind me just how close under the surface the chaotic loving truth really is.
“God, Incarnate, Word made flesh, born of a woman. We can tell the true, messy stories of the Incarnation. Emmanuel, God with us. May we recognise the miracle of the Incarnation, not in spite of the mess, but because of the very humanness of it.“