Fair warning to my readers, this passage is going to be raw and strip me bare, the content is extremely personal and is no different than reading from a personal journal. It will inevitably dive into the spiritual and my constant struggles with accepting canonized theology while integrating my personal beliefs which sometimes are aligned with my proclaimed organized religion, sometimes adhere more to the early teachings of my “restored” belief system, and sometimes I find that my beliefs are closest with the findings of spiritual leaders of other faiths, humanists or even scientists. I don’t mean to digress too far, this statement is to act as a summary of the topics that I will address, my opionions are entirely naked. If you are not comfortable with this, please stop now. If you want to hear about my thoughts, my most human experiences, and those things that help me to feel the divine, read on.
In a post on another day, I may jot down a sketch of my internal framework, including my habitus and other influences that have undoubtedly helped formulate who I am now, and how I anticipate it will affect the thought processes of my own child, but for today I will stick with my experiences just prior to, and culminating in my son’s birth.
For months my wife and I have been preparing for a natural birth. Traveling from school to work to birthing class became a norm. 14 hour days were status quo. The hypnobirthing class seemed a little distant to me when we started, but after a few times of being induced into hypnosis, I became convinced of it’s efficacy. We had our heart set on trying to birth our child this way, mentally and emotionally preparing ourselves every day for it.
Several days before lift off, my wife had a nervous breakdown, understandably. We have been under undue stress for months now, not only because of the coming baby, but due to unexpected financial issues that stack miles high. (This in turn has caused a surging in me, or awakening of our society’s dire financial injustice), which left me in colds sweats as I tried to sleep most nights. Logically it didn’t make sense for me to be stressing about a situation of such gravitos that I can’t do anything about it right now, but there it was, constantly. Deaths in the immediate family and the fatigue that comes from absolutely no down time, even prior to the baby, weighed in as well. I sometimes would worry about how our baby would be affected by such stresses in utero, and since his birth seem to be picking up on the nuances of it in his personality. But I digress, several days before his birth my wife came to me and asked me for a blessing. In the LDS church this terminology refers to a practice where one holding holy priesthood authority, bestowed upon him by a direct line that can supposedly be traced by to Jesus Christ himself. This is referred to as priesthood lineage. I was given the priesthood by my father. It is also worth noting that this priesthood holds the same claim to authenticity as that of the Catholic Pope. I have “used” this priesthood many times, most frequently in performing what most churches refer to as Communion, but also in performing baptisms and in giving priesthood blessings, sometimes as referenced in the Bible for “the healing of the sick and the afflicted”.
Performing a blessing is in nearly all ways identical to a practice known as chanelling, though I am sure that nearly every Mormon would deny that and be enraged at my association of such a practice to it. The source of inspiration in a blessing is not from departed spirits, but from God himself according to Mormon beliefs. But the person blessing acts as a conduit, vocalizing the thoughts and intentions of God in regards to the person requesting a blessing. That is a heavy claim. I personally think that the way it works is a little more intimate than that. Regardless it is a practice that I have quite a lot of experience with, and one that I have seen many people struggle with. Claiming the authority of God can be seen as blasphemy, and as such I have seen many people nervously bestowing blessings.
My experiences with giving blessings are complicated to say the very least. I have recieved blessings from people that I hold incredibly sacred, and that have proven in some cases to be prophetic to the T, even when the person providing the blessing did not know me intimately. Similarly I have provided blessings to countless individuals and having my mouth filled as I spoke. Blessings are never premeditated. Sometimes sick people were healed. Sometimes future events were prophecied. Most times comfort was provided, to both the giver and reciever. But sometimes something seeminly contradictory happens after the blessing. That is the tricky thing. When one is speaking in a blessing, are they vocalizing thier own thoughts, or is there truly inspiration from the divine running through the giver?
As one that has given many blessings, I can summarize by saying that often times I am surrounded by a feeling like eloctromagnatism when the blessing is happening, and that I am prompted to say things that I never would have concieved to say on my own. Many times the words said are contradicting to my own opinions about the situation being addressed, and most commonly a feeling of peace fills the room during and following the prayer. But when speaking prophetically, the thought of a false promise can be anerving.
Normally I don’t divulge the contents of a blessing except in my own journal, and most times when I am delivering a blessing I cannot remember the vast majority of the contents afterwords, but in this particular blessing several points were made that stuck, most likely for my own benefit.
I do not reference the whole blessing here, but pull out a few points that were relevant to the events shortly after. The blessing assured my wife that her body was prepared for birth and motherhood, that she was made for it. The blessing gave reassurance to her capabilities as a mother. The blessing referenced water, blood and spirit in the birthing process in correlation with the elements present at the cross and as symbols of rebirth and the blessing stated that for a moment she would feel a oneness with Christ’s atonement. Many other promises, affirmations and warnings were included in the blessing which are not relevent for this entree.
Suffice is to say that the day my wife’s water broke, when we learned that our child was breach and that we would have to do a cesarean our hopes were dashed. My wife even recalled that the blessing had said that her body was made for this and questioned God. As she did, I questioned myself, and I couldn’t even bring the strength to my lips to say what I feel about God. (That is a touchy subject for me and one that is probably left for another day).
After laboring for 5 hours or so our OB/GYN arrived and we could begin the surgery. I do not do well with blood and was a pretty nervous but did my best to keep my composure for my wife. She cried. They lead us into the ER and sat her down on the operating table. Tingles ran through my entire body as I saw that where she would lay was in the shape of a cross. The words from the blessing a few days earlier echoed through my mind as I helped lay my wife’s arms on the cross bar. “A oneness with Christ”. Certainly I hadn’t anticipated this. I didn’t even know that some operating tables were shaped this way. I wept some as she shook, looking upward toward me. Hidden to her view, I could see the entire operation. I watched them pierce her side. I watched as blood flowed forth. She was conscious through the entire procedure as I did my best to keep her calm. The paralells were astonishing to me. A selfless sacrifice, through the piercing of a mortal frame, that a new life may begin, clean, without sin or blemish, wrought through water, the fires of affliction, and the sacrifice of blood. My son. A continuation of myself, and yet a being anew. Immortality in the most human way. This is Divine.
At that moment I was immensly grateful for the knowledge and experience of doctors and staff that had plenty of experience with this situation and marveled at the calmness of such an emotionally charged moment. Watching my son be pulled from the body of my spouse was an experience that I wish my wife could have shared with me directly.
The mystery of life still eludes us all. Though I love to read the most modern scientific theorums on human consciousness, it’s origin, (and more recently discovered holistic principles of our brain with all functions in our universe (see the mind body problem, or quantum theories of the mind), I am in large measure left to speculation, experience, and building a fabric of understanding for myself. I cannot say that Christianity, or even Mormonism aptly portrays my ideal belief structure. I believe many things to be true that lay outside of the canonized theologies of such constructs, and find truth in virtually all established religions as was as nature and academic endevors. But I can say that I felt something very special that day, and on many other days that I was forced, out of necessity, to ask for help from a source unseen. I will continue to seek for truth, and to abide by it’s precepts. This trancends normal rules of morality and social construct with a single phrase: love unfained. Otherwise known as Charity.
Some say that you feel most alive when you are close to death. I feel that this may be true, only in that a moment of near death forces you to live in that moment entirely. I hope to truly live each day, and my son is helping me to do that. The sacrifice of my wife did not end after the surgery. The scars she carries will serve as a constant reminder of that moment, and each day of giving oneself as a parent is a sacrifice that may not have an equal, but life is a gift, a precious gift, and I intend to use it to it’s fullest.