Midwife to the Next Life ~ Guest Contributor, Lisa Gaston
This is the definition I use to explain why I am imposing myself into the homes of the dying. Of course, I have to get to the door, and that comes because of my role as a hospice chaplain. Hospice care is a shift in focus from curing an illness to supporting a patient and family to live the life they choose, how they choose, without the constraints of curative treatments and hospitalizations. Stopping medications that make them sick -unable to focus or function- in exchange for medications that control pain, allowing those close to the end to focus on what’s important: human touch, honored connection.
Bringing up death as I ponder Advent might seem a bit backwards, but the concept of being a midwife, the definition “bring into being” comes together for me in relation to life and death and here’s why.
I sit with people as they review the life they led, standing in the gap of what they had and what they wished for, cheering them on when they try one last time to make a difference. But I really don’t know what it is like to be them. What is it like to see your life here on earth coming to an end? What is it like to have your body no longer support the life you want? Honestly, I have no idea. I can guess, I can ask, I can accompany, but I am not that person. Every experience is unique. But I can tell you the privilege of accompanying someone on their final journey here on earth is a miracle.
This leads me to the conversation I had with my daughter as we prepared to welcome her baby girl to life outside the womb. A midwife delivered my granddaughter, and along with several others, I was there for the miracle. My daughter and I talked about labor and delivery and I commented on the odd reality that no one else present has any idea what you are going through, and no words, or moans can convey what you are experiencing. I said I really wished I could know what was going on in someone else. And she said something very profound, “Isn’t that how life is, mom?”
Yes, that is exactly how life is. Midwife: bring into being. Each one of us is experiencing our own life, and I don’t experience life the same way you do. But the way I meet you and connect with you can bring all kinds of things into being.
As Christmas draws near, we all walk our own journey to the birth of Jesus and the reality of Christ in our lives. When I ponder Jesus’ arrival, what can I bring into being in my own life? How do I deliver the Good News to others? Each of us has our own profound experience of the life of Jesus. Perhaps you are waiting. Perhaps you are witness to that excitement in the life of someone else. Perhaps you are filled with the joy of a new love in Jesus, or maybe you are moaning in the darkness. How can you bring into being the presence of Christ in your life? How can you be the midwife for another to experience the birth of Jesus? How can you bring into being, anew, the light of Salvation?
Lisa Gaston is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ and currently works as a hospital chaplain. She also loves quilting, creating, and making music.