What I’m interested in pointing out today is that birth is a messy process. “When I think of birth,” writes the spiritual director Dani Saville (modernmetanoia.org), “I think of incredible pain…Contractions and ripping and blood…then this tiny being arrives.” What if being born of the Spirit is something like that? What if being born anew is “an ongoing series of births…multiple instances of ripping pain and rushes of joy, hope, and possibility.”
Spirit…Divine Breath…then, can be understood as the midwife of rebirth. Renewal. Regeneration. In our walk with Christ we might, over and over, feel the promptings and contractions urging us to leave behind what we know. Leave behind what we have outgrown…what no longer serves us well. Leave behind what has fed us and nurtured us and kept us safe. The price for resisting the promptings of birth is high…
And we might resist newness because it means letting go of what we have known. Even so, the midwife Spirit waits and watches and pays attention and catches us as we emerge, again, more deeply into God’s reign. As we are made anew. Born again.
The metaphor is so familiar to us that we forget its power. Imagine rebirth. We would see all of the world afresh…free of weariness and preconceptions and judgment. Free of boredom and habit. We would be immersed in imagination and possibility and wonder and love. New life, new birth, would also strip us of whatever power and control we imagine ourselves to have. As we entered the reign of God (again) more fully we would have to trust the midwife Spirit to catch us in our screaming struggle to orient ourselves anew. Birth and spiritual rebirth can be messy and unpleasant And it brings us more fully into the holy reality of God’s reign of mercy, unconditional love, grace, shalom.
-Rev. Ruth Moerdyk