Stewards of Birth


In honor of Kaleigh Marie Hutchinson, I thought I would speak of the stewardship of the birthing process. Giving birth is a very spiritual journey.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta blessed the entire world with a very simple path. It is a prayer I live by.

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.

The journey of the Carmelites in the States of Prayer is similar:

The unawakened self
The awakened self
The Dark Night of the Soul

Birthing follows a similar path. The child grows in silence within her mother’s womb for 40 weeks. A mother of a child in the womb loves and worries over her child in silence. There are no words to express this. The anguish of a mother whose baby dies in her womb is indescribable. There are no words that would do justice. There are no words that will fill that death and void. Even though my mother had nine healthy babies, she still remembered and loved her first baby that died in her womb and miscarried.

Back then, no one suggested naming the child who died in my mother’s womb in the early 1950’s. I wonder if my ninth sibling would have been a brother or a sister. And so the mother prays for her child and for herself to be the best “Mom” ever.

The fruit of prayer is faith. The mother (and hopefully father) prays for their child growing in the womb. “O beloved child in the womb, we can’t wait until you are born. You will leave your home of the womb and be part of our active family. We want to show you colors, love, family, growth, literature, earth, laughter, running, joy and so much more.” The child responds with, “It sounds great to come to your ‘heavenly earth’, but if I don’t like it, can I come back to this womb?”

The fruit of faith is love. Love isn’t easy. The mother knows that the child will never be able to enter back to the safe temporary home of the womb. The child says, “If I can’t come back, then I don’t want to leave. I will hold on to this love I have discovered in the womb forever!” And this is the dilemma; Mom is well aware that the birthing process will be very painful for her and her child. But it is the only way. If the birth is natural childbirth, the child must traverse the very narrow birth canal where the dangers are plethora. If it is caesarean, the birthing won’t be as painful for the child, but the birth is just as terrifying. If the baby could speak, she will cry out, “I am blinded by this light! I am cold for the first time! I am hungry! What is this hunger thing? I am too upset to learn how to suckle my mother’s breast!” For the next 18+ years, this beloved child will have to change and learn constantly, whether learning to read, study, play fairly, grieve a loved one or learn manners. Life will be an ongoing and relentless wrestling match.

And yet Mom will have to in faith, trust. For when the water breaks and the womb tears, when Mom is safe with a midwife or in a hospital, then she will have to go against her child and push the child out into the world.

The fruit of love is service. The mother simply surrenders and says, “Behold, I am the mother of this child. Let it be done to me according to the will of God.” She is a mother forever. She is at the mercy of love, even if that love is not returned. She will always do what is best for her child, even if the child protests, responds with hatred or disowns. I have to believe that the problem with abortion is that the mother of the child within the womb has been lied to. “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” The mother in these cases is an infant child herself. Others have convinced her that her baby is really just a fetus. As a counselor, I would call this “mother abuse.”

Often, when I am blessed with a woman who is attempting to heal from the horrors and terror of an abortion or miscarriage, I listen first. Then I ask them the name of their child who has died sometimes twenty years earlier. Once the child is named, I invite her to offer the child to Jesus (or Allah…or Yahweh…or Love). Hundreds of mothers have introduced me to their children with names like, Lilly, James, John, Isabel, Patrick, Daniela, Caitlin, John Paul, Robert, Jacqueline and Ronald. Sometimes I receive a beautiful peace plant on the anniversary of a child from an anonymous mother moving through the grief, yet full of gratitude for the grace and mercy imparted to her from God.

The fruit of service is peace. True peace is knowing that we loved the best we could with the cards we were handed. I have never met a mother who did everything perfect in raising their child…even if for a very short time. The only perfect mother I have ever known is the Mother of Jesus. Jesus gave us his mother while dying on his cross. “Behold your Mother!” And she indeed was and is the perfect mother. But the perfect mother suffered and suffers greatly. “And you yourself, a sword will pierce so that the thoughts and hearts of many may be revealed.” She held her crucified son in her arms.

The fruit of peace is union. The fruit of peace is love. The circle of life continues. Love conquers all. Mothers push aside the labors of childbirth shortly after laying eyes on their child. Let us lift up in prayer, those mothers who have never seen their child alive. God and Mother Mary must have a very special place reserved for them in Heaven…a place where they will finally see the fruit of their womb!

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron

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