I have had several experiences in my life of praying fervently for something on behalf of a loved one and feeling closer to God because of my desires. In the history of my spirituality, these experiences are fairly evenly spaced with intellectually acknowledging that I don't actually want to be in a relationship with a God who changes her mind because enough people beg her to.
I am usually content to let both of those extremes exist together and I'm pretty comfortable knowing that even if the only result of prayer is that it changes me, that is enough to make the action worthwhile. I'm pretty sure it changes me to bring me more into alignment with the place in which I actually fit in this world. That is, if I remember that I am dependent upon God, I might remember where I'm supposed to stand in relationship with everyone else, too.
In church on Sunday, a phrase written by Hafiz was the epigraph for the entire service: "Your breath is a sacred clock, my dear-- Why not use it to keep time with God's Name?" It's amazing how my ponderings tend to converge on a unifying theme.
As I understand it, labor involves much breathing. In fact, pregnancy has involved much breathing. Anyone around me can tell when I'm nauseous or feeling a Braxton-Hicks contraction or just generally uncomfortable because I start blowing air out of pursed lips.
I have had a few showers thrown for me in the last couple of weeks and at most of them, we have asked people to write down their prayers of supplication so that while I am breathing like a sacred clock during the early stages of labor, I can do so in time with God's name.
My blogger friend, Baraka, has inspired this request. Toward the end of her own pregnancy, she wrote about a Muslim tradition that gives women the opportunity to make prayers of supplication – called du’a – during labor.
She explained: “[A laboring woman] has been imbued with the ability to create life by the One who created all life. The word for'womb' in Arabic, rahm, comes from the same root of the word that the Creator uses to describe Himself most often, ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful One.
Labor’s sacred secret is that not only is it purposeful in bringing a child into the world, but it holds the power of prayers answered for oneself and for others. In the throes of deep pain and bringing forth life, the woman is utterly close to her Creator.”
This sentiment closely parallels my own understanding that we finally let God get into our hearts through the cracks and brokenness of our lives, including when we are in pain.
Please consider prayers I can make on your behalf and on behalf of your families and leave them in the comments below or send me an email so that I can make du’a during my labor to help me remember my constant connection to God.
5.22.17 - My baby girl turned six over the weekend. Six! The youngest of our crew is now officially a really big girl 9 (she says as much, so we know it's true). Six...