A few weeks ago I was asked to submit a blessing or a thought for a friend's Blessingway, a ceremony of women supporting and celebrating a woman who is on the cusp of becoming a mother.
I thought a lot about my friend and what an example she is of strength and commitment I thought about my own births, three of them, and adoptions, three of them. I thought about my current life, my current role as a mother, and how very different the challenges are than I ever could have dreamed. I thought about how things might have gone had my body not been a mess. (You new readers don't know anything about my malformed uterus, my bed rests, my PICC lines, my hyperemesis, the pre-term labor, the three traumatic and some, unexpected c-sections, and the surprises that seemed to accompany just about all the additions to our family. It's been a wild ride.) I thought about what it means to be a powerful woman, even amid turmoil.
photo copyright (c) staci hopkin photography
And that night, in the small hours of quiet, I wrote this poem. I harbor a small hope that somewhere at another blessingway or baby shower or friend to friend, it can be shared with other women of faith who are mothers. I love reading this out loud to myself, as a prayer, a mantra of who I am and what I believe about myself.
Thank you for reading.
For some men of this world, power is something to be built, bought, gained, grasped, seized.
It is loud, it is bloody.
Bodies and spirits, whole nations crushed in the pursuit of it. For them, power is control.
There is a different power with women. It builds life, nurtures it. It creates bodies, houses spirits, and lifts, not crushes.
In birth, it too, it can be loud and bloody, but it does not trample. It does not hold on with white knuckles, clinging to sword.
No, a woman is most powerful at the moment she decides to let go of control.
To give over to God and her divinely-fashioned body and trust that those two entities know what they are about.
Her greatest power during birth, and in the years that will not stop crashing over her as she raises up the spirit she once housed, is in letting go of what she thinks should happen and what should be.
God, her soul, and perhaps even her body still know what they are about.
Her power is to realize that every storm, every road block, every pit fall is an opportunity to let go.
And she must realize this while the wind blows, while the hail beats down, when she's down in the mud after a treacherous fall.
Oh, if she can only see that when life has wrested her to her knees and she is in darkness,
Only there, kneeling with acceptance and soul-searing pleading, can He clothe this woman who has given up her power in His power.
In giving birth, she lets go and gives in, and then spends the rest of her life re-learning that catechism.
She must remember how powerful she was when she cried in pain trying to find her baby's way from warmth and darkness into bright lights and strange voices.
How powerful she was when she took a step into life's vastness, and her path was not lit.
When she forgave herself.
When she dropped the burdens she was carrying and laid them at her Redeemer's feet.
In birth, in life, as a parent, and even perhaps in death, a woman is most powerful when she lets go.