Birth as ceremony

“From midnight until three, which is the time when the most sacred moment in the earth is, the time when that morning star arises in that horizon in the morning, there is a moment when the earth stands still, and that’s when the most efficacious prayer is made. ‘The morning is standing. Hold this moment close.’ It’s such a beautiful expression of that holy moment when a prayer will be heard by everything that is. There is a moment like that in birth, and so, how can birth not be a ceremony?” Midwife Cook, as quoted by Patrisia Gonzales, author of Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing

I like this quote because it reminds me of how many traditions consider the early hours of the morning to be especially sacred, where the veil between worlds is particularly thin. In Islam, it’s the time we make the tahajjud prayer. Hindus call it Brahma-Muhurtham, and recommend it as a special time for prayer and meditation. I was thinking about this a few nights ago at a birth. It was three in the morning and everything was completely silent except for the low hum of machines. The room was dark, and mama was sitting on the floor cross-legged swaying a little in between surges. It felt like time out of time–time that doesn’t seem to exist because we’re never there for it. A few hours later and the sun was up, the couch where her husband was sleeping was folded, nurses and doctors came in and out of the room and suddenly, somehow, there were people everywhere on the floor. Had they been there all along? For this birth, I’ll remember those quiet hours the best and most clearly.

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