This pregnancy had been challenging for me. I felt weak and tired and ill much of the time. Emotionally I was fragile and I was afraid to give birth again. I was afraid of the uncertainty and of the pain and of that dark place where weakness and despair and fear can swallow you up. I had convinced myself that what I needed in order heal from these anxieties was an easy birth. And so I asked God for that. I was sure that a quick labor would heal the wounds that needed healing and give me a fresh start- mentally, emotionally, physically. But that isn't what I got. My labor was long and hard and my body was weak and just on the other side of a rough stomach virus that had hit our home just days before. And when it was over and he was here, we were left with the sobering realization that, regardless of what I thought I needed, it wasn't what I got. And yet I knew that what I needed was still what I got, although it wasn't what I wanted. There is truth in the cliche concept that a women is reborn when she gives birth. It's as if in those moments of impossibly deep surrender and vulnerability and pain, her outer layers are stripped away and a new, true self is revealed. It is raw and fresh and it hurts, but it is a better her.
We had not named him before he came, and as we lay in bed as freshly born parents of five, we learned for the first time the meaning of the name "Raphael," which is "God heals." The names that we had been drawn to suddenly took on such a deep and powerful meaning. Had we not had the birth we had, Peter would not be the rock that he is. Strong and powerful, stubborn and difficult and courageous. And had we not been a bit broken in the process, he would not have been the grace that I needed to mend. And I would not have heard the voice of God so clearly and so tenderly say to me, "I am right here with you. I am making you new." My strong little healer given to me in pain and weakness, my own simple cross that bore it's own victory. And suddenly an experience that I didn't even want became one that I loved. Not despite the painful, dark moments, but with them and through them. I could not have known these things until he was nestled on my chest, warm and new, and until those moments of temporary suffering were complete. It all says so much to me about trust in this journey, and in my own simple ideas of what I need to be a healthy, whole woman. What Peter's birth has taught me is that I don't know and that I shouldn't know. What I need is to trust this Love, and call him Father, over and over. And to meet my crosses as they come and to choose to love them. There is always heaven on the other side. My rock that heals, two weeks old today. Two weeks new for the both of us.