We approach Christmas and much of the world pauses, if just for a moment, to recognize one holy birth. Be it imperfectly or even a far cry from devotion, it's remarkable that this birth over 2000 years ago still marks calendars, vacations, traditions, and for many an entire month or more of planning to celebrate.
And I have to wonder...
If the Incarnation were actually happening today, would friends and acquaintances have expected her to "take care of it" months ago?
Would they tell her she'd never reach her dreams this way?
"What about college?" would they ask?
"You don't have to spend the rest of your life paying for one decision."
"You can always have more when the timing's better."
If the birth were actually happening today, would she be labeled reckless?
Would she be critiqued for traveling so late in her pregnancy?
Would she be told she needed to trust the experts?
She's only a 15 year old girl, after all! What could she know about birth?
Who's her OB?
What if something goes wrong?
And what was Joseph thinking allowing this to happen?
What crazy sources was HE listening to anyway?
"Don't be a hero," would they say?
"There's no medal for craziest birth story, you know."
Not once was she checked.
Not once was she monitored.
Not once were her veins punctured nor the surges of her holy womb measured or timed.
No one questioned her hips, her skill, her sugars, her due date.
No one was telling her how to push or watching the clock for progress.
No one slammed a hat on him even in a cold stable.
No one forced Him to cry or flicked His feet or clamped off the flow of His Precious Blood.
No one injected Him, weighed Him, or even timed the beat of His Sacred Heart.
She may have had fear.
She may have not have even felt safe.
And yet she trusted...her body, her Baby, Her God.
The design was His.
Her body was His.
This birth was His.
The fiat uttered nine months before was still on her lips and heart as her womb opened in surrender to the plan - sacred, pure, and free. It was neither home nor hospital, planned nor surprise, safe nor dangerous, excruciating nor numbed.
And it remains the most beautiful and most celebrated birth of all time.
It's worth noting that happening today it would likely be derided and criticized by the experts, declared dangerous on social media, perhaps a CPS visit to the stable included. It would be deemed by most to be completely unsafe.
"Women should birth wherever they feel safest," it's often said in the birth world. Perhaps. A sense of safety is important for the labor process to naturally unfold, it's true. I've written about that before.
But what if her idea of safety is skewed? What if her feelings are based on inaccuracies, wounds, trauma, or cultural narratives and not actual reason, faith, or even evidence? What if her idea of safest doesn't at all even reflect the actual statistics?
And what's more, what if God has so much more for her than safe anyway?
Should she still play it safe? Did Mary?
If we want our births and our lives to glorify Him...
then we can - we should - submit every decision to the Lord -
the same Lord who asked Peter to walk on water.
the same Lord who spit in the blind man's eyes.
the same Lord who sent His friends on a ship knowing it would storm.
the same Lord who allowed Lazarus to die.
the same Lord who has called thousands to martyrdom.
the same Lord who asked a 15 year old girl to give birth to Him in a way that was anything but how she likely felt safest.
In all those scenarios, the plan of God was far greater than safe.
What if God asks something for our own pregnancies, births, and babies that goes beyond what might feel safest or what the experts might say? What if our intuition says something else or God is asking us to grow through this pregnancy and birth in a way that might challenge our comfort, that might earn us derision or strain relationships or even entail suffering?
We can prioritize a sense of worldly safety or we can make decisions held in the hand of the Father. No, they're not always mutually exclusive but sometimes what feels safest to us might not be what is best for us or our babies. What God might call both of us to might be so much more than what the world tries to convince us is safe or proper or expected.
But we can choose to exercise faith in our pregnancies and birth planning. We can make acts of trust even when we tremble. We can choose to believe that the Heavenly Father loves our babies and us infinitely and that He is always working for our good. We can listen to that whisper of the Holy Spirit inside us who may be inviting us to something unexpected, something profound, something glorious.
And just like Mary, we can birth in a spirit of trust and surrender, even when it asks something of us that may feel anything but safe.
As we enter into (yes, enter...the Christmas season only *starts* on Christmas Day!), I wish you a beautiful, peaceful, joy-filled celebration of the Birth and Baby that changed everything. May the sacred birth and postpartum time of Christmas be honored in our homes, churches, communities, and world, starting family by family. May you in turn be blessed beyond measure in a deeper understanding of these beautiful Mysteries and allow your soul to be transformed within them.
And let's remember we are celebrating a birth, a very real birth that changed the world and - if we let it - can change our own births, too.