Do you know about the season of Advent, the time of sacred waiting in the Church? It reminds me of how young mothers and fathers await the birth of a child. They quickly become attuned to how fast the body, mind and emotions undergo changes during pregnancy. The first trimester is full of the awe and wonder of this brand-new miracle happening, and especially about the growing baby’s safety. During the first trimester (first 12 weeks), the most dramatic changes and development occur during the baby’s growth, from embryo to organ development to fetus. During the second trimester (13 to 27 weeks), the baby begins to build weight, and those cute kicking movements begin to appear, bringing much delight! The last trimester (28 weeks to birth) marks the final stage of anticipation: the fetus grows larger, gains weight, strengthens its organs, and prepares for birth. The woman’s body and emotions during these months undergo rapid changes also, as the baby receives his or her nourishment through the mother.
I still remember my own pregnancy, several decades ago. My entire pregnancy was like an extended Advent! I was fortunate that I didn’t experience “morning sickness,” and I didn’t feel any physical symptoms other than fatigue. My growing baby took all of my energy, leaving me exhausted at the end of the day! Physical birthing pains didn’t kick in until delivery day, but birthing “anticipation” settled in strongly early in my pregnancy. The feeling I remember most was more emotional and spiritual than physical: an extreme closeness to my baby, unconditional gratitude, and a deep awareness of the presence of God.
I imagine Mother Mary, in experiencing her own miraculous pregnancy, also felt a deep, abiding sense of God’s presence. What was growing inside of her was none other than a miracle, the Christ, and her body was the home, the temple, for this amazing new baby growing in her body.
Our bodies are like hers, too, in a way. Our bodies are the homes for the spirit within us that was birthed on our actual birth day. Our bodies are the temples for the spirit inside of us that longs for union with God (“yoga” in Sanskrit.)
The miraculous birth of Christ that we celebrate on Christmas Day is a celebration of the greatest magnitude, the greatest gift of God’s presence among us. As our hearts long for communion with divine presence, it serves us well to remember that God is birthing something new within us too—perhaps a deeper connection to Spirit, or a renewed heart filled with wonder and awe, and maybe even a heart that is willing to keep trying, to keep connecting with others because our hearts want human connection at their deepest level.
At the deepest level, the true essence within us is waiting to be birthed, to be discovered, to be awakened to. Just as for Mary, this Advent time in the Church is set apart for us to attend to the growth happening within us as we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is a wonderful, inspiring and miraculous time.
To tap into this beautiful, sacred rhythm and discover what God is doing within you, you can be intentional in these ways:
The miracle of the sacred birth is the Christmas gift that satisfies our hearts. The gift is within us and around us, now—we simply have to awaken to it.
This is the season to join with Mary and celebrate the miracle of giving birth to the discovery of our true essence, with the Christ child leading the way.
The Reverend Gena Davis
Episcopal priest, yoga educator, author, spiritual director, founder of YogaMass®