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Monday, December 21, 2015

A Different Kind of Christmas Story

As we passed through the walls of Bethlehem, I felt the first tightening tug at the base of my belly, ripping me apart. I was too tired to gripe at Joseph about his poor planning, so he dragged me around town, until finally I lay in that prickly hay-pile in the stall next to an old spotted brown and white cow.

By then the pain was shocking, starting with that sharp piercing claw beneath the weight of the baby and radiating out in heated waves, circling my body, pressing my spine, struggling to break it in two. During those short pauses I tried to breathe steadily, to save up some air, and to swallow back my fear, wishing I had known, that I knew now…wishing my mom…

I stared into Joseph’s eyes looking for sympathy he couldn’t possibly feel, and then past to my only other comfort on this chilly, pain-wracked night. Could a “father” possibly understand? As I gazed beyond the braying donkeys and dusty sheep to the deep blue sky with that strange blaring star, I sensed maybe He did know something…about birth…and then the next sharp crest of agony hit.

There were no breaks now. They crashed one after another, until I felt the shock of virgin flesh opening…the tear…the press of a soft skull against my skin. Stretching, burning, and finally…a release. I heard a soft cry as air hit his lungs for the first time. I giggled through the haze of pain and joy. Joseph told me to push again.

As the squirmy body slid out of mine, as our flesh parted, I reached for him and scooped him against my damp chest, wanting him to know that this was life, not merely fetal death.

So this wrinkly, pink person covered in goo would be a king? I guided him to my breast, an age old ritual I knew well, and he sucked with newborn vigor, happy to be reattached and drinking me, feeling my heart pump, my warmth, feeling almost at home. I was lost in the silken touch, in the scent of his tiny body. Marveling at minuscule fingers and toes.

Then Joseph took him to wipe him, as well as he could, with some rags from our pack. Surveying our surrounding I just had to think, what a crummy place for a king.

What if there had been…some mistake…it was too much to consider, and I focused on Joseph searching the stable for tufts of wool, lining the manger, of all things. Once he was finished, I thought it might do, as he laid the baby down.

Finally able to relax, feeling like I had run for days and days, I looked outside, thought I saw in the sky…a burst…of delight?

A flowing, swirling, I could almost hear…singing?

And then some shepherds showed up. Why not? I figured, what’s a few more lambs. They looked cleaner than these mangy animals. The shepherds had come to worship the king. Something about angels, they said, and I felt an icy unnamed lump in my chest melt.

I looked down toward the wise baby eyes, and dreamed that perhaps he would not be another king of carved armor, glinting swords, and spiked chariots, but a king…of growth, of life. A shepherd, maybe, like these, and that I…woman…might be free.

God births his blessings onto the earth through his children. Take a moment to consider what God desires to birth in your life. Many of us dream of birthing stories and books. You may long to birth a ministry or a relationship. Ponder the agony and wonder of pregnancy and childbirth, and contemplate what God might speak to your situation through them today.

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