Friday, August 6, 2010

Birthing With Reverence
img_2798 by eyeliam

I found the following passage, about birthing with reverence from midwife Carolina Wise, to be eloquent and thoughtful. She does a wonderful job of extrapolating our current state of our highly technological maternity care system to our understanding of the meaning of sacred in society. May we all be more reverent. Birth is a litmus test for a society's treatment of women and for it's application of the sacred. A rising 32.8% Cesarean rate (and rising) leaves much to be said for America's view of women.

Birthing with Reverence

Midwives can create a spirit of beauty at a birth or they can desecrate it. They can create a sacred space around a birthing woman that drives out fear and inspires the mother’s belief in herself, which ultimately determines the outcome of the birth. Midwives can be a channel of Grace in ways they never imagined and in doing so they create a spirit of reverence. Reverence in these days and times is not a common thing.

As a midwife there were times after births that I was overcome with awe, which is another term for reverence. It seemed appropriate for the sun to stand still in the sky, and the traffic to stop, and the whole universe to pause for a minute of awe in acknowledgement [sic] that something astonishing had just happened. It just seemed appropriate that all of creation should have taken notice. Perhaps, in the unseen world, it did.

Unfortunately in America there appears to be little reverence for much, especially not women or birth. This is not surprising given the history of the oppression of midwives, the rise of the medical model and the objectification of women’s bodies. The sacred has not just been drowned out at births but in our lives as a whole. In fact, reverence is not part of our public vocabulary at all. Yet, there are a few things that Americans do revere. Reverence for money comes to mind.

If you follow where the money goes it will reveal the short list of things that Americans do have reverence for. Large amounts of money are funneled into the pornography industry. Women are not revered in that industry. In fact, they are desecrated as an object of fantasy, not to be loved, cherished and honored, but simply to be used and discarded. Therefore, lust is revered, and as a result we have become a pornographic culture in which women are routinely desecrated.

Desecration involves an act in which a sacred thing is pillaged, or dishonored. The opposite of desecration is reverence. Reverence acknowledges and honors the sacred. Women and that which has to do with them, namely birth, are sacred. But they are not sacred at this place and this time. In fact, who among all the industrialized nations are reverent about women and what they do when they give birth?

Midwives have been given a sacred trust and a great honor to stand by as a witness to a miracle. Birth is not a small miracle. It is an extraordinary miracle. We are created for reverence and our work demands it. But when birth became a medical procedure our culture became so far removed from the beauty of it that it became commonplace and unimportant to the larger community. In the process of our irreverence we lost sight of our beauty as human beings.

Caroline Wise
Excerpted from "Birthing with Reverence," Midwifery Today, Issue 82

No comments:

Post a Comment