Happy Labor Day!
"Labor" doesn't immediately bring my job to mind. Through my body, labor is how my children entered the world. Labor is the gateway.
I can't think of a better word to describe the amazing flood of changes the woman's body experiences during those intense hours right before the birth of her child. The pain I experienced during those hours is like nothing I have ever experienced, and I doubt very much that I will experience a pain quite like it any other time in my life. It was intense, yes, and probably worse than breaking bones...But the astounding hope and joy that my labors held, made the pain almost peripheral. Almost...A.L.M.O.S.T. It's not that I could ignore the pain, or that I wasn't a little bit crazy because of it...I certainly was. But in the case of my children, the pain is what brought them to my arms! Instead of avoiding labor, I prepared for it.
2020 has held a lot of pain for a lot of people: intense isolation, a resurgence of overt racial discrimination, job loss, fears for safety, loss, sickness, etc. A huge part of me is begging for it to all come to an end. I find myself longing for the end to all the pain. An ability to hug and see faces, a disgust of how little reconciliation we've accomplished, a restlessness with the lack which some are living, a panic for more security, and a rush for a cure. Notice how all of the things I wish for are things our world so desperately needs? Like the birth of a healthy child, our world longs for resolution to the pain it's experiencing.
I would wish it all away if that were possible, but since instant resolution isn't possible, I wonder if viewing our world's labor like the miracle of birth could be just what we need right now. It is intense. It is painful. On a national and global scale, it is likely the most intense thing we've experienced in a while. I wish there were an easy way to solve it with a cessation of pain to all concerned. I so desperately wish for that! And then I'm reminded of what the hours of labor accomplish.
Labor allows the woman's body to safely move the baby from womb to world. The woman survives because her body changes. The pain would actually be worse without the softening and stretching. The baby's health is protected by the pressure, squeezing the liquid out of the lungs to prepare them to receive that first burst of fresh air. What if we look at 2020 as the hours of preparation we will use to become what we need to be? What if we gained more than we could ever imagine by travelling this astounding year?
It's nearly impossible to see what we've learned until we look back on all we've experienced. In the moment, it's just pain and horror. But since we are stuck here for now, what if we anticipate looking back...what if we imagine all that could come of wrestling through this year. What if our labor is not in vain?
Lord, you have an amazing way of bringing redemption out of the worst of circumstances. Bring my imagination alive, bring others imagination back to life. May we begin to see the places that this year was a birthing labor of something new and beautiful and glorious. May we look forward with hope, and energy, becoming part of the ensuing change. May we look back at the labor and see that though it was terrible, it became the catalyst we needed to be part of something beautiful.
Happy Labor Day
- Becky Miller