Childbirth, Lent and Purity Codes

Epiphany jetted past at a suspiciously swift tempo (hello time/space continuum, slow down please!). And I feel like I've fallen directly into Lent--the most un-Lenten Lent I've ever experienced. At the same time, I know the dance between life and death continues and I am well aware of the risks of love.

Statistically, historically (and no, I'm not going to hunt down the book this came from at 6am), the average marriage only lasted 7 years. Not because of some "seven year itch" or medieval divorce rates--but, because of death in childbirth. While this is clearly no longer the case (in this country at any rate) it is an awareness that is hard to shake. While this is not a fear that keeps me up at night...nor one that torments me in the day...it is a knowledge I carry. A knowledge ground into my pores like the ashes from last night (however, unlike the ashes, this knowledge won't make me break out).

A strange sensation, this carrying of life and death. Yet, at the same time, it is something we all carry. It's interesting how the purity legislation surrounding childbirth in most cultures is incredibly restrictive--and if we are to believe Bell's work on the matter--this has to do most intimately with how close the childbearing woman has come to the margins of death of life. (The same concept underlies purity codes around menstruation) Blood, water, life, death--great pain and great joy.

Welcome to a Holy Lent indeed. Interesting, given all of this, that Lent has traditionally been a time of preparation for baptism. Perhaps this is where I will find my sense of the sacred in Lent--not so much in reflecting on the passion (altho' it is my natural inclination to do so) but in preparing for birth. Lent is a liminal season. It is neither fish nor fowl--and I am currently not one nor two. My anticipation of Easter seems bound to my anticipation of a major ontological transformation (in other words, birth/parenting will transform both me and my beloved). Hmmm, perhaps there is something to be said for a liminal third trimester juxtaposed with a liminal Lent?

My apologies for all of the anthropological/theo "speak". But this language is the place I begin--and where I find a false sense of control over what there can be no control over. That said, it's time to slip into a modified child's pose to help this kidlet realize that they are facing the wrong way!

Comments

KD said…
so glad you are still writing. I truly enjoy reading your thoughts. Thank you.
angela said…
Just happened here b/c I read your comment in RevGalBlogPals and found hope! I'm just starting a journey really--toward ordination, but also as a woman who finds herself opening in new ways all the time. :-)

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