Bravely Boldly Birthing a New Story

Last week I sat in church and cried. 

This is not at all typical for me. I usually keep everything pretty buttoned up. There are lots of reasons why I am like this, not least of which is my "Spitzer upbringing", as my husband calls it. There was plenty of German stoicism to go around in my childhood, and so the free expression of emotion continues to be a growing edge for me as an adult.

But I've been contemplating a pretty big career change, which is always stressful. We've been going to a new-to-us church lately--Trinity Church of Austin. They are super welcoming of kids with differences, and since my boy definitely falls in that category of kid, finding a place where no one cares that he doesn't sit still and couldn't whisper if his life depended on it has been amazing and wonderful and life-giving. Another fun feature of Trinity is that the folks over there are Keepin' Austin Weird in a way only a holdout group of Hyde Park hippies could. 

Case in point: on the Sunday in question, we sang, as our responsive "hymn", Let It Be. Yes, the one by the Beatles.

Apparently, Paul McCartney wrote it in memory of his mother, who was named Mary, but loads of people think of Jesus' mother Mary when they hear the line, "speaking words of wisdom, 'Let it be.'" (And for the record, Paul did say that fans were welcome to interpret the song in whatever way they find meaningful.) What many Christians recall when they hear that song is the conclusion of this scene:

  Robert Campin  's c. 1420s   Annunciation   panel, (   Mérode Altarpiece   ),   The Cloisters  , New York

Robert Campin's c. 1420s Annunciation panel, (Mérode Altarpiece), The Cloisters, New York

[As a total aside, I really love this version of the Annunciation. Gabriel is all, "Hail, thou that art--", and Mary cuts him off with a, "Just a sec, I'm in the middle of a paragraph here." And Gabriel is all, "Ok, well, I'll just wait over here then. Until you're ready. Take your time."]

According to Luke (1:26-38), once Gabriel gets Mary's attention, he gives her the astounding news that she is to become pregnant with a son, but not in the usual way. And even more amazing, this son "will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David." This is some pretty big news, but Mary, who is one fierce mama, and with a million times more grace and courage than anybody might have guessed she had in her, says, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." This is Mary's call story, and she rises to that call.

As we were singing the Beatles song that echoes Mary's assent, I suddenly remembered the sermon that was preached at my ordination, and the tears started to fall.. The pastor (the inimitable Julie Pennington-Russell) had used Luke's text and asserted that this was "no Milquetoast Mary", but a strong and courageous woman who knew that what she was saying yes to was going to be no walk in the park. But yes is what she did say, and her faith in God was her guide.

In church that day, I knew the answer to the decision I was struggling with--whether it was time to leave the group doula practice I had helped found--was yes. I knew that leaving would be hard, and going back out on my own would be scary. But I also knew that God has something else for me to do, and I need to allow space for that something to happen. I have always thought of my work with birthing families as not just a job, but a calling. This is the work God means for me to do.

The preacher that morning at Trinity said, "We have to part of birthing a new story." I know that God calls Christians to do this on a large, society-wide scale. It certainly is the case for lots of folks in these waning days of 2016, hope is pretty thin on the ground. But I also know that in church that Sunday, God was calling me to birth a new story in my own life and work.

So, I gave notice at my group, and I am striking back out on my own as a childbirth educator, lactation counselor, and doula. I am doing my best to be courageous and strong, like Mary. I am updating my website and finding teaching space.

I am doing my best to remember to breathe and to pray, "Let it be."

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
And though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah there will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah there will be an answer, let it be.

And though the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine until tomorrow, let it be.
O, will I make up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney

Let It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC