December Babies (SBJ, Jesus and Me)

5

8 December 2012 by thaliakr

Damien Hirst, The Virgin Mother, London (photograph: wurzeltod

This time a year ago I was celebrating my birthday by cuddling my baby – with my arms instead of my uterus – having just met him on the outside for the first time.

SBJ was born thirty-four years-minus-four-hours after me, and conveniently arrived at 11.10pm, just squeaking in to get his own birthday.

Not that I would have minded sharing. He’s very good company, and I could gladly shimmy over and make some room for him.

My husband is on nights at the moment, so I have just woken on my birthday, cuddled up to my baby again. He still sleeps in our (now gargantuan) bed, which suits us all very well. As a child, I apparently kicked a lot in my sleep, so wasn’t great to share a bed with, but SBJ is cuddly and not wriggly at all in his sleep. He does sleep-crawl still, and last night I wondered if he had inherited my family’s tendency to sleep-talk. My sisters and I have lots of stories of sleep-conversations from whenever we’ve shared bedrooms. Anyway, that’s a digression (but I’m allowed one on my birthday, right?)

Being both a December baby and a December mother, I have developed an affinity for Mary’s perspective on the Christmas narrative.

I missed a huge whanau gathering for my uncle’s 70th birthday when I was eight months pregnant. We couldn’t face four hours in a car or countenance being an hour away from a major hospital. If only Mary had had such autonomy. I just can’t imagine – or rather, I am now much more able to imagine, with horror – how she must have felt hauling her tired bones across country.

I wrote a bit more about this on my occasional blog at Kiwi Families earlier this year:

At nine months pregnant, it was coming up to Christmas and I thought a) I would emphatically not want to be walking to Bethlehem right now, donkey or no donkey, and b) did no one in Bethlehem see a pregnant woman looking for a place to stay and want to accommodate her? Seriously?

I’ve never before appreciated how isolated Mary must have felt. Not only was she on her own with Joseph having her first baby without her family around her, but she was the exception to the seemingly universal rule that people get excited about pregnancy, even that of a stranger. How sad.

Anticipating your labour is scary enough in modern Aotearoa, let alone in occupied Israel, centuries before Entonox, antibiotics or ultrasound. The Message begins John’s Gospel with ‘the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’ Mary’s role in offering her flesh, her blood, to that endeavour, while being shunned by whole neighbourhoods is pretty astonishing.

You can read the rest here. I’d love to hear your thoughts – there or here – about Mary, Christmas babies, or the intersection of pregnancy and spirituality, or (just about) anything else!

And a cheeky birthday self-promotion request (a once-a-year indulgence, I think): if you feel like giving me some birthday love, do you think you might be able to share your favourite Sacraparental post with a friend who hasn’t met us but might like to? That’d make my day :)

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5 thoughts on “December Babies (SBJ, Jesus and Me)

  1. Caroline says:

    I found this article, which is vaguely related to the above post, and I thought you might be interested:
    http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/14693/advent-merton-and-mary/

    What struck me is that, while advent in particular is a time of “waiting and hope”, some of the comments that are made about the spiritual journey of advent are also very true about the journey you go on when you are pregnant. I lost count of the number of times during both of my pregnancies that I had thoughts along the lines of “I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end”. The experience of pregnancy has brought a new meaning to this aspect of advent and a new insight into Mary’s experiences. In the end, I just developed a trust that all would be OK, even if I didn’t know how it would be OK.

    Sorry that’s not as eloquently put as I would like – I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say, but something struck a chord.

    • Thanks, Caroline, that’s very thoughtful.

      Remembering that Advent is Mary’s last month of portentous pregnancy does put it all in a more profound perspective, I think.

      One of the difficult things about pregnancy – but perhaps not about God! – is that there is such binary uncertainty all the way. When you are planning on getting pregnant, you know that in a few months’ time, you’ll either be a) pregnant, nesting, finishing work or b) not. There’s such an enormous range of futures you have to be prepared for – or can’t.

      Thomas Merton’s words are very helpful here. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I like reading an article that can make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  3. […] A reflection on being a December baby and a December mother. […]

  4. Rebekah Noakes says:

    Due 21st dec….hoping baby won’t share Jesus’ birthday…. wondering exactly how it will all work out….trusting that it will…. Somehow….. Thinking about mary’s journey (getting up the stairs feels like a journey in its own right) thinking about Joseph’s journey too (wish matt would let me name the baby after that humble faithful man!)

    Gavin says Mary was travelling to Joseph’s home town and relatives in Bethlehem and there was no room in the ‘upper room’ (rather than inn- same Greek word as in acts 2 apparently) possibly because of Mary being ritually unclean because of the birth… Hence joining the animals downstairs in the shared family dwelling. Still, not where I would choose to give birth.

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