Wednesday, 1 December 2010

On being a midwife - are women really that subversive

I had a wonderful and powerful conversation with a good friend today. We talked of midwifery and the pain of our roles, trying to birth something into being and being hindered and held back, sometimes by not daring enough to be ourselves, to take on what my friend calls "our grace-filled subversive role as women". She pointed to the five women cited in Christ's genealogy in Matthew's gospel as being powerful subversive models in different sorts of ways:
Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and "Miriam of Nazareth" - as my friend always calls her.

These women, inscribed through grace into the history of a male saviour, bear the future subversively, carry children in their bellies and give birth to the future despite everything - being seen as prostitutes, foreigners, wife of the wrong man, single mothers ...
Of course even the men God chooses to write salvation history through are hardly the handsome hero types - Moses has a speech impediment, David is the youngest son (and becomes more than just a bit of a philanderer), Abraham is such a man's man that he pretends his wife is his sister to get himself out of a sticky situation ... Cain kills his brother, Jacob steals his brother's blessing...

Then of course there is Joseph. If he had dared perhaps Shakespeare would have said Joseph was cuckolded by God. Earlier this week my friend challenged we female midwives to think about Joseph as a midwife, certainly as a birth attendant, at Jesus's birth. So many male partners are the only ones there to help new life into the world, to tend to the women they love at this most critical of times. Just as there are female doctors so there are also male midwives.
As we trangress and bend gender roles all of us take on some of the power of the subversives.
That subversive power is graced by God.
Happy Advent, happ waiting.