Monday, October 30, 2006

life bearing

This week I got to talk about the spirituality of childbirth with a new friend who's doing a project on this for a class. What I found out, as she interviewed me about my experience of being pregnant and giving birth, is that while I experienced it as deeply spiritual, I didn't, necessarily, experience it as Christian in any obvious external way. Maybe it's just that I'm a bad Christian, but I don't think so.

Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't theologize a lot about what it meant to be pregnant. It wasn't something I wanted to thematize, or abstract from. It was something to cherish experiencing, and so I spent most of it just trying to be in the moment. Writing little notes to Clare in her little purple journal while she was born was part of that, I think.

One theological thing that I did find myself with was a much more concrete conviction that God is a God of life. Instead of being a principle enshrined in a theological system, suddenly, God as a God of life was concretely located in the ever-growing massive space between my ribs and my pelvis, kicking and wriggling and declaring her living goodness. I was in awe of the process, in awe of my own body, and hers, and in awe of the resilient fragility of it all.

For comps, I read an essay by Rahner, anthologized in the Theological Investigations, that discussed childbearing as absolute risktaking. That struck a chord with me, being about 6 weeks pregnant at the time, when everything was still a huge unknown waiting to happen. Rahner argued that childbearing must have this character. I remember thinking as I read it that really, this is simply an instance of life where life's true character as risktaking is more evident than it is day-to-day. Life is risk. It takes faith to negotiate it, and to bear it.

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