A New Year’s reflection from Rachel Held Evans: 2016 and the Risk of Birth
An excerpt …
For me, the dissonance of this strange year is compounded by the fact that motherhood turned my bleeding heart into a hemorrhage. It’s as though I’ve become porous, my skin absorbing the pain of others, particularly other mamas and babies. (Speaking of which, why did all the good shows this year involve children in peril? I’m looking at you, “Stranger Things”!) Every night, as I nurse my boy in that cozy armchair in his nursery, I think of the Syrian mama nursing her baby in a raft adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. I think of the shell-shocked boy from Aleppo. I think of how every Latino kid taunted by classmates, every soldier sent to war, every autistic kid who will lose his therapy when ACA is repealed, every black man shot by police is somebody else’s baby boy, somebody else’s most important person in the world. I still, almost every day, think of Sandy Hook.
“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin,” writes Frederick Buechner. “It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”
Motherhood invited me into other people’s skin in a way I’ve never experienced before. So my joy is big and real and consuming, but also incomplete. I am overwhelmed by the conviction that every mother should be able to feed her baby like this, in safety and contentedness, and I am haunted by the reality that this is still far from the case.
In 2016, I became more aware than ever of the darkness around us, and more invested than ever in lighting the path.