Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas and Labour

About a week before Christmas, I began to think of the Christmas story in a new light. I was thinking about what it must have been like for Mary to be in labour that night. Was she already having contractions as they went from Inn to Inn? Was there an edge of desperation in this search? Was Joseph just hoping she could hang on a little longer, stay on the donkey long enough for them to find some place to stay? Did Mary's impending birth and the mess and noise involved suddenly change Innkeeper's minds, so that they had "no room"?

Who delivered baby Jesus? There is no midwife, or other female mentioned in the story, so one must assume that Joseph the humble carpenter delivered the baby of his bride-to-be in a stable surrounded by horses and cows. I suspect that neither of them, especially Joseph, had previous experience with childbirth. It must have been a somewhat harrowing experience.

And then, after all that, when Mary was exhausted and elated and trying to figure out how to nurse the baby, there were shepherds and sheep everywhere who wanted to see the baby. Did she want them to go away so she could get some sleep? Was she strong enough to greet them? Were the shepherds loud and boisterous or gentle and respectful? Did they help Joseph clean up the stable and get everything sorted out?

All these questions have started bouncing around in my head. But the image that stays with me the most is one of a young girl, in labour, riding a donkey. She is trying to stay calm and focused. She knows they will find a place to stay soon. She trusts that God will not allow his son to be born in a ditch or the middle of a city street. But it is looking more and more hopeless as time goes on. And the pains are coming faster, and she is trying to contain the pain and not be overwhelmed by this full body experience until they get to a safe place.

There is all this unspoken fear and suspense and determination behind the story. All this pain and mess and reality behind the simple words, "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."


bananamamara said...

I've thought about this also and think it is interesting that Mary and Joseph were able to give birth to their child in the peace and comfort of a cozy barn.
I imagine telling my daughter "my version" of the christ birth where-in Mary gets to give birth in a dimly lit stall of a barn surrounded by animals, breathing warm moist clouds of grain scented air. Mary and Joseph have privacy and courage. I hope I can bring myself to use sound effects, and get my daughter used to the sounds of labor.

Just think, Mary and Joseph didn't need a sterile hospital room, they just needed a space for nature to follow it's course.

Anna Banana said...

Hi Jilly, it's me banana girl.... that last post was from me. I was having trouble getting it to post with the link to my blog.

anyway, cool idea to contemplate!