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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Evening Beautiful

Posted some recent pictures (see below) of a trip to Cape Breton. Post-bachelor/ette parties the night before, we headed up w/ carpool buddies, stuck around for the pre-wedding bbq, music and bonfire, crashed on the pull-out couch of some folks we'd just met, and left early the next morning to drive back for Chris' award gala.

There is a splendidness in this landscape that borders on haunting. I often find myself thinking of the Mi'qmaq people - both pre-European and current - and a sense of belonging to this land which is still so foreign to me. A yearning to share a bond of blood and beauty with the landscape, the wood fire, the ocean.

Our new Greek-American friend who specializes in raspberry vinegar and loves to discuss etymology and philosophy during long car rides, commented this was the first vacation he's had in three years. As we sat around the fire, I wondered how sweet to have your first break be like this - good people, good food, good music.

En route home, my sweetness and I took turns driving and picking CDs. We talked about our relationship and our love and how easy it's been even when it's been hard. "Wedding Slow Songs" came up next in line on the CD list and a cascade of memories flooded us both. Life in Toronto, early relationship discoveries in different houses, music melting the margins. I couldn't help but weep at the majesty of it all.

Monday I took off work to catch my breath and decided to avoid all 'work', including housework. Instead I made a clay bowl, sewed scrap cotton for a wallet, tinkered with my bike. We had our visit to the new midwife and in the evening our second prenatal class. I felt centred and good for the first time in a while.

I've been giving a lot of thought to the baby birth and how we welcome her/him into this world. It's a lot of heady stuff - medical knowledge, lots of doctor and midwife visits, prenatal classes on safety and how to change a baby's diaper. Sometimes political stuff too as Nova Scotia moves to have midwifery covered under public health insurance and sometimes practical as in baby showers of stuff and kijiji hunts for cheap wooden cribs. As I think about feeling prepared, I realize what I'm longing for is a sense of the spiritual, the recognition of the amazing miracle that is on the doorstep.

How many places around the world recognize birth as a sacred event? And although to some extent, baptism is in our backgrounds, the dogma feels removed. So it is I want to pull together something that makes sense. We did it with our wedding so why not this? Rituals make sense but sometimes old ones don't.

So I've gone to our friendly local library and found books on rites and rituals. I came home with them in tow this evening and have been flipping through. Ronald Grimes writes:
"Birth narratives, especially in contemporary North America, rarely make the sacrality of birth a major theme. Even in home-birth narratives, in which spirituality might emerge without entering into obvious conflict with scientific medicine, ritual is seldom important to the kind of spirituality expressed in these stories."

I'm on a hunt now as well as a journey to try to discover what is going to make sense for me. In about 10 days will be the gathering of the women of the Benjamin and Shaw clans for another shower. Then a week later our friends, both male and female. I'm thinking now of what I'd like to introduce and ask of people at these. Some way to share wisdom, blessing, promise and insight.

While birth is a passage into life, the transition from adult to parent is a kind of rite of passage that we are taking on. We cloak ourselves in both the responsibility and joy of caring for a little one. Chris has said our house rules will only be three: respect, safety and fun. Respect for each other and for ourselves. Caring for our bodies and minds and those of others. And enjoying each other through laughter, adventure and crazyness. I like these three rules. Maybe they will also figure in whatever rite we come up with.

On the other fronts, things are also good. I've really been enjoying the vast capacity of our friends to be pretty terrific. I feel honoured that in a year's time our paths have crossed with such good people.

Work has been a bit crazy busy and sometimes painful as it tends to be when it involves youth in such precarious situations. A while ago I wrote a funding proposal and got $5k for a literacy program for youth who are parents themselves. Part of the program is for the parents to make books that they are going to share with their kids. They are astoundingly beautiful as a woman came in to do bookbinding with the parents. Then linoblock printing. And then the inscription one mother wrote: "To my daughter. I love you so very much." The earth moves.

- Mama


Charles Gramlich said...

Reminds me of some nice evenings drumming around the fire with Lana.

Amanda said...

Hey mama. I've read of the simplicity of baking a cake and singing happy birthday upon arrival of the new one, where everyone sits back & revels & celebrates & eats cake. I also believe that them witches have a lot to share that you might find useful--lots of earth-based rituals, some of which are great for a baby shower too...from a recent invite I received (but I can't go to the party!): "Please bring a bead to form a blessing necklace for Anna. A blessing necklace connects a labouring woman to her friends and helps remind her of the strength of women. Also, please bring a small item for a pampering basket for Anna for after the baby has arrived." (both helpful and pratical, helping avoid the slurry of "stuff" that usually comes with showers).

Finally, I really believe that being informed and present in your birth, with loving people there...the experience can be so very intense and powerful and life-changing that it really is inherently spiritual, if you let it be. I've been reflecting for two years on the spiritual shift I've experienced.

Lots of love, as always, moi.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

It seems that Benji and Yourself are as solid as a rock. All towering waves will break around you and leave you both unmoved.

Best place to build a new castle.