Being a Womb
This is the week to ponder wombs. Mary and Elizabeth came together, and the fruit of their wombs – the babies – responded. This was their moment to begin a journey long imagined by God. They are the seed planted in the world, the gift to humankind, both creature and Creator, homunculi of the Unfathomable.
In my imagination I visit wombs: the cocoons of butterflies, the dark dens of mother bears and mother rabbits, four am classrooms with their waiting books and chalk boards, hospital rooms in which patients struggle to leave this world or find new ways of coping, the machinations of adolescents, the dawning of a realization that someone is not who they seem, and the dreams of nuclear scientists. All wombs are places of waiting, places where the slow maturation of something wonderful takes its inevitable time. We cannot rush gestation.
Often we do not feel the new life stirring. We make our way through long hours that have become drab and threadbare. Perhaps the energy of our souls has gone somewhere deep to nourish a new understanding that we cannot yet even begin to glimpse. We are left with the empty husks of a life grown stale and empty.
Sometimes we feel the seed in us growing through an unbearable restlessness and discontent. We cannot find anywhere to sit. We cannot stick with the task at hand. We begin something, lay it aside, begin something else. We don’t want to eat. Sleep eludes us. We get caught up in useless activities that go nowhere.
How do we keep from mistaking gestation for barrenness? How do we imagine what we cannot feel and don’t understand? “How can this be?” Mary asks Gabriel. “How will I know that this is so?” asks Zechariah. The angel has brought them the message, but it’s hard to understand.
For us the angel is often not even discernable, let alone understandable. We cannot see Gabriel among the bright lights and constant noise of contemporary civilization. Our cell phones get in the way, as do our constant cycles of meetings and obligations. The only thing we have to guide us and give us the tiniest inkling of hope is prayer.
Where are the wombs that will hold our hearts until the womb of new life makes itself known within us? A comfortable chair in a darkened room, a park bench overlooking a quiet pond, a walkway through the winter trees – anywhere we can simply hang out with God in silent prayer becomes a place where the awareness of gestation can dawn.
To that end, I love the Collect we are using today: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself. . . .
We are the wombs purified and opened through prayer. May it be so.