Image: Clothed in the Sun by Jan Richardson
In the days leading up to the birth of our child, Will and I observed a “counting up” ritual. The ritual was created by Rabbi Tivka Fremer-Kensky, author of Motherprayer, as a way of marking the days of expectation in the last month of pregnancy. Each night we lit a candle and remembered one person who is part of the community, the family that our child would be born into as we counted up to the baby’s arrival. We hoped each night that this ritual would not run the full course of the 40 names we prepared. We hoped that the birth would interrupt our plans to light the candle and pray before another night of restless sleep. Each night we wondered if this would be the night. On the evening of the 40th ritual as we remembered the 40th name I felt the first labor contractions.
I wonder if the new life waited until we had run the full course of the ritual, until we were fully surrounded by the web of friendship and love we began to weave with our remembering.
Birth is unpredictable. What is being prepared in us and in this world this Advent season may not arrive on Christmas. It may require many more weeks of gestation and ripening. It may desire us to continue the work of preparation, of tending the light of justice and joy until they are fully present in our midst.
Sarah Henkel is a Teaching Elder. She is a resident at Stony Point Center and member of the Community of Living Traditions, a multifaith community of Jews, Muslims, and Christians dedicated to the practice and study of radical hospitality, justice, and nonviolence.