If Facebook can be considered a news authority, then it’s a fact: all of my friends are either pregnant or have recently had babies.
Every time I log in, a new message appears in my feed announcing Baby X, coming to you May 2015. It all starts with an image of an ultrasound or a picture of a onesie, soon followed by photos of pink cake and ever-expanding baby bumps as the Internet awaits the arrival of the latest little one. Even Kate Middleton is pregnant again—though, since we’re yet not friends on Facebook, I’m unable to follow her quite as closely.
All this talk of babies has me with a serious case of baby fever, and, if I’m honest, these days I feel a tinge of jealousy each time I open up my computer to another grand announcement. However, with big house projects and young careers, it’s not time for us yet. Instead, I hold the tension of this desire close, knowing that this is a season for birthing other things and that one day soon the time for birthing babies will come.
Perhaps new birth is also at the forefront of my mind because we are in the final days of Advent and will soon celebrate the birth of Jesus—Emmanuel, God with us. It’s so easy to want to skip straight to the goodness in life as well as in the holiday season—to the new baby in our arms or to the songs of rejoicing as we proclaim, “Joy to the World!” In my own creative endeavors I, too, would rather get straight to the finished product, preferring to forgo that long stretch of waiting and avoid the labor pains.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the way it goes. The finished product is never quite the same without the season of gestation, the surrender to the unknown, the wrestling and pushing until something beautiful is born. And still, despite my best efforts to force the creative process and remain in control, that beautiful thing is always a mystery until it reaches the light and takes its first holy breath.
Though we aren’t all pregnant and expecting Baby X in May 2015, as co-creators with the Divine and bearers of the image of God, we are each invited to give birth to the Holy. The season of Advent offers the perfect invitation to wonder about what the Sacred is conceiving within us and enter fully into the unknown as we both wait in the quiet mystery of pregnancy and, when the time is right, labor to bring forth new life.
It’s no coincidence that the church calendar begins with Advent rather than Christmas, nor is it accidental that the celebration of Christ’s birth falls for many of us during the darkest days of the year. Just as light emerges from the darkness, new life comes only after we engage the mystery that is slowly taking shape within.
Just like Mary, we bear the Divine, giving birth to the Holy within our daily lives in an effort to bring Hope, Light, and Life to the world. As the season of Advent draws to a close and we prepare to light candles and keep vigil on that silent night—holding tight to Mary as she ferociously labors in the most ordinary of places on the most unexpected of days—may we join her not only in celebration but also in the invitation to birth the Holy within us all, awake to God’s invitation and eager to serve as vessels of the Incarnation.
What is the Sacred conceiving within you? How can you intentionally engage this season of waiting and gestation? What is born through your willingness to labor on behalf of the Sacred?