This morning I opened Jan Richardson's book, "Night Visions" for my morning meditation. The page I opened too was not day six, week four, but day seven, week five, "After Birth." I don't want to rush the process of Advent, skip the birth altogether and end up here. But her opening words compelled me to read on, "The first time I ever saw a placenta was in middle school, during one of our health units. A nurse brought it to our classroom - a sloppy red thing, I thought, in a plastic basin." She continues saying that afterward it was probably thrown away along with other medical waste, rather than being buried in the earth as people do in other parts of the world. Burying the placenta in the earth, grounding the newborn child forever in the soil. Nourishing the soil which in turn nourishes us.
Then she speaks about the importance of birthing the placenta. How the woman is not safely out of the birth process until the placenta has been delivered. It pieces of it remain the woman will hemorrhage and die. She says, "The body cannot abide the unfinished business of birthing..." This leads to a reflection on labor and birthing as a metaphor for life...the desire for wholeness vexed by shreds of untamed memory.
I know something about this in both aspects, the urgency to deliver the placenta (only 30 minutes are allowed after the baby is born, and then the Dr. must do a D&C, go in and get it surgically). I also know something about the unfinished business of the soul vexed by shred of untamed memory. It is exactly what I was speaking about to the Jungian yesterday.
My reflection with the Jungian had to do with my internal response to those occasions in life when I have done something "wrong" or when I think someone perceives me as less than. I have a huge deep reaction.
After years of therapy and meditation I have learned to step back from my internal reactions. I step back and give them some time to breath. I look at them and know that while there is some truth in my reaction it is not the whole truth, it is often an over reaction based on emotion and not a response.
The Jungian suggested that wounds like this never completely heal. We carry them from childhood and they stay with us. But what is important is how able we are to observe them, to step back and let it inform us but not propel us. He also suggested that as we grow these experiences do not impact us as deeply nor last as long. He suggested that the next time I experience this I allow myself to pray into it. To have a conversation with the emotion and see what arises.
What I have come to understand in these two years I have worked with the Jungian is that I am able to have the observing mind, able to look out over my woundedness and let it be. I do not rush into the intensity, I sit with it. Later I am able to understand the situation in a fuller capacity and not just in the narrow emotionally explosive way my woundedness leads me. I no longer bleed out all over the place.
Richardson concludes her reflection with this poem:
When we are spent
from the labor
and longing to rest
in our deliverance,
when we hunger
in the celebration
a lasting sabbath,
you tell us
this is where
our work begins.
For the labor
that is never over,
give us strength;
for the healing
that is ever before us,
give us courage.
May our resting
be our renewal,
and may we work
your people whole.
I am grateful for the healing I have experienced in my life. I am also grateful for the journey that has not ended. And, I am grateful for companions along the way who help me grow and become more fully who God is calling me to be.
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