My friend Jess talked recently about the holiness of feeling empty. I had read an article for grad school about breastfeeding as an entrance into theology, breastfeeding as spiritual practice. We do not talk about this enough in our faith teachings or sermons. Have you ever heard a Christmas sermon about the pain, blood, and visceral reality of Jesus being born? Have you heard a public meditation on what it might have been like, or meant, for Mary to lift this tender newborn to her breast to feed him? How much do we miss when we neglect these very female aspects of our spirituality and faith stories?
I thought about my friend’s words of emptiness and thought about Mary.
How did Mary feel after Jesus was born?
I don’t mean in her emotions, we know she paid attention to all the events around Jesus’ birth and early years and pondered them in her heart.
I mean how did she feel in her physical body? How would this pregnancy compare to future pregnancies? After Jesus was born did she feel strangely emptied, her womb no longer the dwelling place of the divine? Her body no longer a shelter for the sacred?
kicked from inside by tiny feet
plagued by strange cravings
hungry, always so hungry
back aching and no comfortable way to sleep
the fire, the pressure, the need, the terror, the thrill, the release
The Word became flesh and
What did this feel like?
Was there a hole where the holy had been?
Was there an ache to be filled with God again?
Was there a relief to release this baby into the world,
your body no longer the sole container of eternal justice and hope?
Was there grief because you could no longer protect this gift with the power of your own body, flesh, blood, bone, uterus?
arms filled with love
belly poured out,
When did you next feel so filled?
Or did you walk the dusty roads of Palestine
ever aware you were now emptied of the Divine?