Once I started looking pregnant, strangers started treating me differently. My own policy is never to assume someone with a little roundness in the abdominal region is pregnant – it just seems safer that way, right? But it turns out this is a less popular approach than I’d realised, and pretty much every day from about six months along someone in a shop would ask ‘When-are-you-due-do-you-know-what-are-you-having-oh-i-suppose-you’re-buying-green-and-yellow-then?’
A car even stopped for me in the middle of a block seeing that I wanted to cross the road.
I felt pretty special that the whole world was excited about this baby.
At nine months pregnant, it was coming up to Christmas and I thought a) I would emphatically not want to be walking to Bethlehem right now, donkey or no donkey, and b) did no one in Bethlehem see a pregnant woman looking for a place to stay and want to accommodate her? Seriously?
I’ve never before appreciated how isolated Mary must have felt. Not only was she on her own with Joseph having her first baby without her family around her, but she was the exception to the seemingly universal rule that people get excited about pregnancy, even that of a stranger. How sad.
Anticipating your labour is scary enough in modern Aotearoa, let alone in occupied Israel, centuries before Entonox, antibiotics or ultrasound. The Message begins John’s Gospel with ‘the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’ Mary’s role in offering her flesh, her blood, to that endeavour, while being shunned by whole neighbourhoods is pretty astonishing.
If you are pregnant right now, if you have been pregnant before, or if you’ve ever walked alongside a waddling, aching, heroic pregnant woman, I’d like to invite you to read Mary’s song at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. I invite you to think about her swollen ankles, nausea, fatigue and fear, and ask yourself, what sort of woman could sing that song, bear that child, swallow those tears? I reckon Mary’s son isn’t the only one we have a lot to learn from.
This is just one way I found my experience of God intersecting with my experience of pregnancy. What about you? How has your experience of being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or being with someone who is pregnant connected with your spirituality?
Where is God in pregnancy? What’s been your experience?