It’s two days before Christmas and I am over-the-top busy getting ready for the big day. So, today I’m reposting something I put on Facebook last Christmas. Merry Christmas Everyone!
“Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright.” When I was a child this was my favorite Christmas Carol. I would always imagine a cold moonlit night, stars shining brightly, a big star shining down on a picturesque stable standing all alone on a beautiful hillside. Inside the stable were a couple adorable animals, all sleeping quietly, while Mary and Joseph sit on little stools, dressed impeccably, looking adoringly down on a beautiful infant who is glowing slightly and sleeping peacefully. You know the image I’m talking about, what we always see on Christmas cards.
Now, when I hear that song, I laugh quietly to myself.
“Silent night.” Hah. I doubt there was anything silent about that night. I have given birth 10 times. Yes, 10. I have had a labor that lasted over 24 hrs with 4 hrs of pushing, I’ve had induced labors with an epidural, I’ve had completely natural births that lasted 4 hrs and completely natural births that lasted 90 minutes. It doesn’t matter how you go about it, the end result is the same. Lots of pain. Mess. Achiness. A feeling of being out-of-body. People around you are giving you instructions, you are doing everything you can to get through the pain, and your husband is trying to offer whatever support he can. And then when the baby is about to come out, the energy in the room suddenly increases and everyone is bustling, getting ready to welcome this newest addition to the world.
I imagine Mary, going through that birth experience in a stable. No sterile hospitals with running water. No ice-packs, no pain killers. No clean bedding. I don’t think Mary was alone during her birth. I am not an expert on the culture of Bethlehem at that time, but I have lived in cultures that were a lot more community oriented than what we have here in the US. I’m pretty sure she had at least a midwife there, if not several other women who showed up just to help. And we all know that where two or more women are gathered there will be conversation. No. I don’t think it was very silent.
“All is Calm” No. Not really. The baby comes out and is handed to you and you are shaking so hard that you can hardly hold him. And then, there is that overwhelming panic as you look at this tiny bundle in your arms and you realize that it is up to you to keep this baby alive. It’s like a giant weight settles on your shoulders and your entire perspective on life shifts to this baby. From here on out, every decision you make will have to line up with the ultimate goal of providing for and protecting this little one.
But.. it was Holy. “Holy Night.” Yes. The birth of any child is enough to bring you to tears at the wonder of creation. To see this red-faced, wrinkly creature is a holy experience in itself. I remember tears streaming down my face, all pain forgotten for the moment, as I carefully cradled this little one. My child. This life came out of my body. I was in awe at the wonder of birth. I would think, for Mary, that experience was multiplied a hundred fold. Her child. God’s child. Hope born. A fulfillment of God’s promises. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Painful, messy, loud, chaotic, Holy Night.