A few thoughts on Mary, pregnancy, and making room.

J. Kirk Richards, The Annunciation

J. Kirk Richards, The Annunciation

I. The night I told my father I was pregnant with my first babe, he had a dream. The tiny child inside of me was a girl who would grow up to be great in the sight of the Lord, and her name would be Sophie. That was the name I had wanted for a little girl for over ten years. I couldn’t remember telling my father. The child was born, and she was a girl who I hope will grow up to be great in the sight of the Lord, but I named her Cora, after my great grandmother. I have had tiny moments of doubt about it ever since.

II. Cora grew. And grew. And when she was big enough to climb in and out of things, she particularly loved playing with a drawer in the kitchen that contained her applesauce packets, child-size dishes, and child-size pots and pans. She threw item after item on the floor, until there was just room enough for her to climb inside. She would sit there, happy, having carved a space for herself. 

III. When I was early in my pregnancy with my second babe, and had told only a few close ward members, a woman I had not told approached me after I gave a RS lesson. She thanked me for my words, then told me she dreamt about me the night before: I was expecting a baby boy, with beautiful dark brown hair. I paused for a moment from the intensity of it, for a near stranger to have this intimate knowledge about me. I told her that I was expecting a baby, but didn’t yet know what it was, though felt it might be a boy. Sometime later she emphasized that it was, she saw him, and that she has a 98% accuracy rate for our ward. Despite my initial shock, I loved that the silver haired, single woman standing before me was a visionary lady.

IV. Last week an ultrasound technician confirmed what the woman dreamed: the baby inside me is a boy. I thought of Mary (who my daughter calls “Mommy Jesus”). She too had been told by a stranger that she would give birth to a son. She too had been told by a messenger, as I was from my first, what the name should be. Unlike me, however, she followed the advice. Were her feelings anything like mine?

V. A few days after that, I listened to another woman in my ward speak over the pulpit about her pain regarding the recent policy change, as well as how some General Authorities have counseled us to “stay in the boat.” She said it is important to ask why so many need to leave the boat, and that if we are to mourn with them, or minister to them, we will sometimes find ourselves in the water. She spoke more about welcoming, and making room.

I remembered my daughter, who made room for herself in her tiny drawer, her brother who is making room for himself in my body, and my body itself, that knows how to welcome him, despite immense discomfort and even pain. Whole organs are moving aside, saying, “You are welcome here.” I know that the birth will be painful too, but maybe also beautiful. And the result–the result will be worth everything.

VI. Every day, I’m reminded that the body of Christ and the country I belong to are at just such a moment, an uncomfortable, painful moment, where whole organs are moving aside, saying “You are welcome here,” while others are focusing on the fear and hurt. It is painful to make room for beings that are not ourselves, that are other than ourselves. Sometimes immeasurably so. But new growth can come, and an expanded body. Because of this, the birth will be worth everything.

Rachel

Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. CatherineWO says:

    Beautifully said. It has weighed heavily on my mind just what we can do to make room in our homes, our families, our lives, our congregations, for every individual. Your words give me more food for thought. When I was pregnant with my fourth child 33 years ago (before ultrasounds), my VT companion was a recent convert to Mormonism, an elderly blind woman, who told me I would have a girl, born on this woman’s birthday, which was a week after my due date. Indeed, I had a girl, born early in the morning on that date. Every person has a gift to give us.

  2. EFH says:

    Beautiful analogy. Enjoyed reading your post.

  3. Julia says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for this little piece of beautiful on a dark day!!

  4. Yes, we need to be better at making room.

  5. Emily U says:

    Rachel, this is a lovely telling of how growth often requires making space, and that can hurt. I hope we are in a growth process in the church now, but it feels like a contraction. If the contraction leads to productive movement, it will be worth it. What’s hard, though, is that we have no idea what the future looks like.

    • Liz says:

      I came to make a very similar comment to what EmilyU says here (amen!). And I worry that we don’t know how long the pain will last, either.

    • Rachel says:

      Both so true. I hold a tiny hope that it is a contraction leading to productive movement, if only for the many, many individuals (rather than institutions) I see, making room. Thank you, Emily U. and Liz for being two of them.

  6. Pandora says:

    This is just so lovely. Like poetry and pictures at once. Thank you.

  7. Mary says:

    Thank you for touching my heart. I am greiving.

  8. Corrina says:

    Simply beautiful and profound all at the same time. Thank you for this post.

  9. Jenny says:

    Beautiful! Thank you!

Leave a Reply