Reflection for Advent 4: Midwifing Solidarity


prophetic witness

Advent - Mary & JosephI had a January baby (she is now almost eight!).  So I remember the December before her birth as a month of profound anticipation.  Advent for me was not symbolic, but intensely real as preparations unfolded and my hope and trepidation grew.  I also remember an increased appreciation for the Mary of Luke’s birth narrative.  A road trip just before giving birth? By donkey, as in most Christmas imagery?  This seemed mind boggling in my ever increasing, ever more uncomfortable state.

A little fear mixed with the sense of promise is natural with a first baby.  There are so many unknowns.  What I remember is the comfort I felt from midwives, both the formal midwives who were on my “team,” and also the many wise women who brought their own accompaniment.  They answered my questions (and avoided some), shared my anticipation, and walked with me into this unknown time.  They were real comfort and presence, never taking away from my own wisdom.  They helped me enter the birthing moment with confidence and my own sense of power and purpose.

I think this vocation of the midwife is a very powerful idea for notions of solidarity.  In justice work, we walk with people who are labouring to birth a new creation, a new possibility.  Our task is accompaniment, and it is not passive, but rather deep action of listening and responding.  Our work is to support, to be led by those whose own wisdom holds the answers to the struggles and hopes of their communities.  And it has a degree of reciprocity:  in some situations we will “midwife,” and in other moments we will receive that accompaniment.  In KAIROS, we can testify to the solidarity we received from our global partners, who walked with us through the crisis of the loss of CIDA funding.  They helped us know our own wisdom, and hold on to our faithful mandate, our own power and purpose.

In the biblical story, the first act of civil disobedience came from midwives Shiph’rah and Pu’ah who refused to become complicit in Pharoah’s genocidal plan (Exodus 1).  In memory of them, and so many modern day midwives who support those who labour to birth a new creation, I offer this gift from my own church community.  The Midwife’s Carol is a hymn written by one of our church’s great hymn writers, Ian Sowton—a “midwife” himself, of sorts.  In the Jewish tradition of midrash, he places midwives at the birth of Jesus and invites a fresh view on this wonderful story of impossible hope made real in the Holy Child.  Thank you to Ian, and Merry Christmas!

The Midwife’s Carol

Music: Becca Whitla
Words: Ian Sowton
Church of the Holy Trinity November 1994

1.The birth itself was not too hard
good presentation, fine strong mum
but my dear it was a circus
I thought that half the town had come
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

2. There were these shepherds who burst in
my dear they said a talking light
told them to come and pay respects–
kneeling, they were, to that wee mite
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

3. He’s breathing well, the cord’s tied off,
her afterbirth’s come free, my dear
when three fine scholar blokes squeeze in
saying a star had brought them here
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

4. You selling tickets then? I said
buzz off you lot and let her rest
and they did, too, leaving presents
rich stuff my dear, the very best
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

5. All that public to and fro-ing
she watches as it comes and goes
with him tucked, dear, in a manger
pulled from under the donkey’s nose.
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

6. Winter solstice ‘twas my dear
shivery damp and animal stink
worship, palaver, gifts and all
what was going on do you think?
Wash him clean, wipe him dry,
Hush you, shush you rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.


Filed in: Spirited Reflections

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