My younger daughter Molly was born on Thursday, December 4, 1986, 28 years ago this past Thursday.  It was the fifth day of the first week in Advent, a busy time on church calendars.  Following the example of her older sister, she arrived promptly on her due date.  I had worked diligently that fall to get things done in advance.  Christmas shopping and wrapping were completed by the end of October.  Worship and program preparation, including the 275th anniversary celebration of the congregation two days following Molly’s birth, were finalized in November.  Everything was set to go.

The details of her early morning birth at 5:55 am are still vivid.  It was very cold.  The large window in the birthing room had inside shutters partly ajar.  Through them at dawn I saw the bluest sky imaginable.  In an era before cell phones and computers, this hospital had a unique habit.  It was impossible for anyone outside the hospital to call in to a mom with a new baby.  Outgoing calls initiated by a mom could happen.  It was critical to remember your address book or list of phone numbers when you came into the hospital to deliver.

This hospital habit encouraged rest, quiet, and a slowed down pace for mom and her new child.  The exhaustion of labor and delivery were acknowledged.  The birthing days of Advent hold a similar invitation for us to take it slowly, pay attention, be watchful, and gather strength and understanding for what lies ahead. And yet these days are often more jammed than usual.  Holiday tasks are abundant.  Each Advent the opportunity is there again to de-accelerate the pace, to make and limit deliberate choices, and to be present.  It is up to us.  How will we go about clearing necessary time and space for birth with God?  Martha