the midwife`s journal <
12. out of the fullness of the human spirit
I heard the phrase "out of the fullness of the human spirit" on the car radio yesterday. The speaker, whose name I missed, was referring to the act of story-telling. As it happens with listening to the radio as you drive, the presentation came to an abrupt and incomplete conclusion when I reached my destination. I have borrowed the phrase for the musings in my Journal today.
When I look into the beauty of creation, and sense an opportunity to sketch or paint, I want to capture a moment, a feeling. I know that there is something in what I am experiencing that I can hold onto. I also know that I will never capture the completeness of the scene - the original will always be infinitely better than the copy. I do not try to hold onto everything. I take what little I can and am satisfied, knowing that, by taking, I have not lessened what is available for others.
It is the same when I write my story after a special event such as a birth. The story, infinitely smaller than the actual event, becomes precious to me. My experience is different from that of anyone else, and my story comes out of the fullness of my spirit. I choose to hold onto it, or it will be lost. Once I have recorded it I can share it with others. My little stories claim their place in the bigger picture, the human story, history.
A baby is born out of the fullness, or completeness, of the human flesh. The conscious acts of woman and man, together with the hidden miracles of conception and gestation are climaxed at the time of birth. The midwife is 'with woman', as the woman brings out that which has been latent, but growing, within her body. The woman's first touch, first sight, first sensation of the emerging infant is a recognition of the 'other-ness' of her offspring. The child, though very dependent on her, is no longer a part of her.
The story is born out of the fullness of the human spirit. This Journal, a collection of my stories, allows me to continue my work on a different plane, as midwife to the spirit of the one who reads. Many of the stories are written to the woman, reflecting on the experiences we shared in the birthing episode. My hope is that she will also give 'flesh' to her story, acknowledging and valuing the uniqueness of her experience.
Others who will never know the woman of the story, and possibly never know me, are also reading and making the connection between the events described and their own lived experiences. Some of these memories have been tucked away for a long time in a remote place. When the experience is acknowledged the latent story emerges with new life of its own.
When I took my Journal home to Brisbane I thought my sisters might be interested in reading it. I hadn't thought about Dad. But he sat down at the big table and read it from front to back. Dad knows about midwifery from his childhood. He once pointed out a house in Redland Bay: "That's where Mrs Heinemann, the midwife lived. She used to come to the house when Mum was having a baby. We older children would go to Grandma's for a little while." That memory dates back more than eighty years.
My older sister was also born at home - the tiny two-room dwelling with hard mud floors in Szechwan Province in China. It was close to the Mission hospital, and our mother would have had a midwife from the mission group with her - probably an English or European midwife.
Dad has always been a keen reader. After reading my Journal he wanted to question or comment on what was written. He was amazed at the roles taken by the men; he wondered about birthing through water; and he told me how thrilled he was with my work, and my stories. Prior to reading the Journal his only contact with the births was the occasional note in the weekly family letter that 'Joy is waiting for a couple of babies to be born'. Dad was touched by the stories, and that night, at family prayers, he prayed for my work, and that we would also have the joy of seeing souls born out of darkness and into the marvelous light of the Gospel.