Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(The painting above is "The Visitation" by Jocopo Pontormo)

For some reason this Advent I am really obsessed with the notion of Mary as theotokos (literally, "God-bearer.") The Greek word does not exactly translate in English. It implies a "bearing forth of truth and goodness" in literally an obstetric sense.

I think about my rotations on the Labor and Delivery floor in my training years. No two births are alike, yet all births are alike. All births--even the most routine ones--involve drama, expectation, fear, pain, fluids, and blood. The magic moment for me on that rotation was watching that baby's head pop out before the first breath is taken. The baby seems to be a mannequin of life, but once the baby is out, he or she takes that first breath, and all hell breaks loose, crying and wiggling and probably thinking, "Put me back where I was! It was warmer back there!" There is no going back at that point!

It's messy and beautiful all at once, and it actually felt kind of satisfying to be bathed up to my elbows in the wetness and smells of it all. I LOVED deliveries. I loved being the first person to catch and hold and cradle that baby before handing him/her off to the pediatrician. I wanted to believe that part of me would rub off, somehow. (It was the "gyn" part of OB/GYN I didn't like.)

I have thought a lot this week, how each of us, within ourselves, has a "holy child" of sorts, growing within us, but there is no time frame for when it's "due." The pregnancy could take months or decades. When we sit still, we might feel it "kick." Some of them occur in those of us who felt "barren" spiritually. Some of us, we might be "pre-pubertal". Some of us might be "of reproductive age." This pregnancy has no barriers as to sex--men can be just as spiritually pregnant as women.

This "holy child" within us comes with all the fear and anticipation real babies do. Will we be a good parent? Will we know what to do when it gets here? Will it have ten fingers and ten toes and be 'normal'? What will it grow up to be?

I kind of imagine God as the great baby-catcher in all this, like a father stuck birthing his own child in a taxicab. Maybe God is nervous and excited too. Maybe he sees this child take its first breath and says to us, "It's perfect! It's beautiful!" Or maybe it's maternal God who takes the baby and cuddles it for the first time, like a good midwife.

I don't understand why I am feeling this in middle age. I just know it's good. I know it has changed this month of Advent how I look at everyone in the street. I see pregnant people everywhere. Do you?


My one and only witnessed birth came during my nursing OB-Gyne clinical rotation. The mother was this young woman, she may even have been a teen, and this was her second baby I believe.

I got to help by holding her left leg and it was an incredible moment to watch this little guy be born. He was a little bit blue so the nurse scurried off with him to get him some oxygen and I decided to follow the baby.

Luckily I did because not long after I left the room, mom sneezed and blew the placenta all over everyone at the foot of the delivery table.

These posts were much more in rhythm with our psychic posting, eh?

Yes, but now you hit one of my pet peeves...when the OB resident got to deliver the baby, and the student or intern got to deliver the placenta. Delivering baby = fun. Delivering placents = not so much.

Mmmmmmm.... rich and provocative post for me to ponder as I toddle off to bed.

Mary as theotokos was an idea that didn't catch on as doctrine until 431 as a response to Nestorianism which said Mary could have a human Jesus but to say she was the mother of God was more than a good orthodox Nestorius and his followers could accept. God, being the ultimate creator, could not be borne by a human being. See what you have to look forward to in Year 3? (Theotokos happened to come up in last week's chapter :D)

Your post comes at a very good time -- and with some very good thoughts. thanks


You evidently read your lesson! Funny how I'm not even IN year 3 of EFM, just year one, but I am picking up on your year's lessons by osmosis!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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