Monday, November 14, 2005

A Motherhood Blessing



I dreaded the idea of yet another boring baby shower, dragging on with endless gift opening, silly games, and a host of labor and delivery horror stories. I had been given the opportunity to create a celebration around the pregnancy of a dear friend, but instead of just focusing on the material needs of the baby to be, I wanted to honor the rite of passage my friend was about to enter into motherhood. It seems that often in our society this incredible moment in the life history of a woman is relegated to the ranks of unpleasant medical procedures. Other cultures seem better able to recognize the beauty and magnitude of this sacred journey and give place and time for reflecting and rejoicing in the traditions surrounding a new birth.

During my search for an “alternative shower” a friend introduced me to the idea of doing a blessing ritual. As I did some more research I found lots of information on the topic, a loose interpretation of a Native American tradition called “the blessing way”. One of the primary intentions of a ritual like this is to nurture and “fill up” the mother-to-be to help prepare her for all that will be required in her new role. There are many creative ways to accomplish this, here is what I chose to do…

A small group of Lesley’s intimate friends gathered in my candlelit home. Each brought with them a handful of flowers that we arranged on my coffee table like an altar, the centerpiece of our evening together. With incense burning and a CD of Native American women’s chants, called “Matriarch”, playing in the background, Lesley arrived and was ushered into her place of honor for the evening.

What followed was a “gift opening” of the most meaningful kind… poems, stories, prayers, songs, and a foot washing were given to Lesley as blessing offerings. We each presented a special bead that had significant meaning to us and strung them together as a labor bracelet for Lesley to wear as a symbolic reminder that she is continuously surrounded by our love and support.

As Lesley expressed some of her fears about birthing and becoming a mother, we each wrote down a single word of prayer regarding those concerns on a strip of ribbon. Grace, Endurance, Dignity, Harmony, Trust, Confidence…the pieces of ribbon were then tied around individual candles. At the end of the evening each of us took one of the candles home with us, promising to light it and remember her concern when we are notified that she is in labor. A large candle with pieces of each of the ribbons tied on it was also given to Lesley so that whenever she looks at it she will remember that we are lifting her up.

We then presented unique coupons we had each decorated expressing our ongoing commitment to Lesley after the birth by offering cooked meals, babysitting, and coffee dates. The evening culminated with the surprise arrival of a henna body artist. This ancient practice has been used in healing rituals and celebrations in many cultures for thousands of years. Beautiful designs were created uniquely for each of us including the masterpiece on Lesley’s belly. The lovely henna stains, which last 10-15 days, were to help us keep the spirit of this special ceremony close to our hearts as we went our separate ways.

Joining in a circle to close the evening, we gave thanks to Mother God for our feminine capacity to nurture and for Lesley’s sacred passage into motherhood. We honored the circular cycles of earth, life, womb, and friendship. We recognized our bonds as sisters and renewed our commitment to Lesley and one another.

As we parted there was a tangible sense that something profound had occurred between us. Somehow in the simple act of setting aside place and time to honor our journey together, we had suddenly stepped on holy ground. This is ground I want to come back to time and time again. So I continue to seek out creative ways to add ritual to my life. Just as my ancient ancestors, I am trying to punctuate my calendar with ceremony and celebration, memorializing both the milestones and the (seemingly) mundane. God can be found in these moments, I have experienced, if I will only pause and recognize her.

Learn more about how to do a "blessing way" here

3 Comments:

Blogger Rachelle said...

tonya,

absolutely beautiful. good job finding your own way to mark such and important place in life!

shalom,

rachelle

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Tom Smith said...

Very Cool!

2:01 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

OK, this had me in tears. Such an awesome and meaningful way to celebrate and prepare for the ongoing journey!

11:26 PM  

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