With my first child, I got to experience Advent in a deeper way as I anticipated the birth of my baby in the months leading up to Christmas. With this second child, I am experiencing Lent on a new level as I journey with Christ toward the crucifixion and Easter.
Traditionally, Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter, not including Sundays) is about repentance, the stripping away of all the things that hinder our growth toward Christ. It carries a somber, gloomy tone and invites us to deep soul-searching. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, when folks mark their foreheads with ashes in the sign of the Cross, Lent is a period of giving up luxuries and necessities even, for the sake of identifying more closely with Jesus.
Being pregnant this year, I haven’t really felt like I’ve been able to engage in the cheerless kind of mood – I have too much to look forward to. But still, I have realized that the Lenten journey has quite a few parallels to the process of pregnancy and birth. In a straightforward sense, during the 40 days leading up to Easter, some people choose to give up a certain food or habit for the sake of their spiritual health. As a pregnant woman, I have had to refrain from certain foods and activities for these 40 weeks for the sake of the well-being of my child.
More profoundly, I’ve found that especially as I enter the third trimester and prepare for labour and birth, I’m feeling a certain sense of foreboding mixed with anticipation of the inevitable. This week is Holy Week, the week we commemorate the last days of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. I can only imagine the mixed emotions Jesus felt as each sunset brought him closer to the nails that would pierce his hands.
Having gone through what turned out to be a rather traumatic birth of my first child, I know that I am walking a road that will lead to a climactic point of self-sacrifice. In order to give birth to this child, I will be forced to lay it all on the line and give everything I have. I am well aware of what is demanded of me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – everything. Each day that passes means I’m a day closer to THE DAY. The day I will be required to lose myself. The day I will be submersed in pain.
There is no reversing it. No turning back. The only way is forward.
Yet, like Christ, I know that the pain that I must endure will be for the sake of new life.
So I walk this road with slight trepidation and some reluctance. But I also resolutely set my face toward that day. For I walk this road with Jesus – and I walk a road Jesus has already taken. Best of all, I know that incomparable joy awaits on the other side.
photo credit: Sarah Korf via photopin cc