In the spirit of this holy season of new birth, I am resharing a piece inspired by my pondering Mary giving birth through the eyes and testimony of her widwife.
It has been more than 20 years, but I will never forget that night.
How could we turn them away? How could we not help?
They had been on such a long journey…
by foot, by donkey, in the sun and heat, sweating, scared, confused, flabbergasted…
and all while 9 months pregnant!!!!
We did not have much room–my beloved and I did find some space with the animals in a cave;
it was not the ideal space for a young couple to give birth but they were grateful to have a place that was warm and dry—
they even said the animals were welcome companions after such a long, lonely journey.
Her husband found me—unsure of what to do but determined to help his young wife.
She was only 15 years old, but reflected a bold sense of hope-filled and faithful determination.
She asked a lot of questions…
Will it hurt…how long will it take…how do I…when do I…???
Will we be good parents? Will we stay here in Bethlehem?
Nazareth is our home, will we be welcome there?
Are parents ever prepared, I wonder.
She also asked about angels visiting, which was a little confusing to me.
I was present when she gave birth to her first child…
I wiped the sweat from her forehead…held her hand giving her encouraging squeezes…
I calmed the father to be, reminding him to breathe…
I was the first to hold him…the one to lay him in his mother’s arms…
watching how only a babies eyes, cry, and peaceful sleep can melt away
the exhaustion, fear, uncertainties, and hardship of a long journey and of the unknown journey yet to come.
Who knows what challenges await them!?!?
I made sure that our religious laws and customs were followed as best I could
given that it was the middle of the night and we were in a cave filled with animals.
The night the soldiers came,
I gave them food, water, and supplies for their exile into Egypt…will they make it safely?
Why are they taking the children…why is this happening?
I can still hear the cries from babies being taken away from their families…
of fear, despair, loss, terror.
But then the image of the young family’s spirit,
their determination to survive and to live into their vocations as a family…
the memory of being there the night hope was birthed into the world
helped bring wholeness to many shattered lives.
I was Miriam of Nazareth’s midwife.
I served YHWH by serving a poor, frightened Jewish family.
What path would this child take? Only G-d knows.
Years later I heard stories of a traveling rabbi
preaching about radical hospitality and wondered…
With this little one came esperanza and possibilities.
My life and testimony, overlooked by history, was lived in the service of others—
being present at the births of children…present at the birth of fe, nueva vida, and familia.
Being included in scrolls and stories and documents did not stop me from doing what was right—will it stop you?