It was the middle of the day. There were four of us. A woman, her husband, their doula, and a baby ready to be born. The light was muted by curtains. She had carefully created this birthing room in her home.
It was an ordinary weekday. The neighborhood went about its business. The postman delivered the mail. In the distance, someone cut the grass. The school bus picked up and dropped off children.
But inside the birthing room, something transcendent was happening.
Inside the birthing room, there was silence. For an hour, complete silence as the woman worked with her waves. The only sound was water. Each time a wave began, I slowly poured water from a pitcher down her back. And in the background, water flowed from a fountain she had placed in the room.
I didn’t dare speak. The space was heavy with the sacred.
This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and will help you: Do not be afraid…
for I will pour out water on the thirsty land…
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—a place near your altar.
This is what the Lord says—he who created you…he who formed you…
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.”
I glimpse the sacred at all births I attend. I feel near to the altar. Like a priestess serving the woman; but ultimately the Author of this new life. It is a meeting of worlds–the spiritual and physical. Soon after, the midwife and her apprentice arrived. The baby was born. And the world carried on, though forever changed by a new life.
As birth servants, may we ever tread carefully in these birthing rooms. These altars.