Post Author: Shannon E. Sullivan
Content warning: Pregnancy loss
My body is heavy this Advent.
Mary of Nazareth’s body was heavy
too, or so we imagine in Advent.
She is often shown so
young and beautiful, demure and obedient,
though that may be the halo more than the pregnancy.
If we have ever met a real live pregnant woman, we might more realistically imagine
the lumbered steps,
In the spring, this is how I imagined my Advent: the glowing, the beauty,
but with my hand to my belly
I feel no movement, no kicking or dancing or shifting
I am empty
not empty like the tired tropes of Mary the empty vessel waiting to be filled by God
I am empty of life
so empty of the baby that was due this month but
still I am heavy,
and instead of a
the grief kicks at me
All around me parishioners and family go get Christmas trees, listen to Christmas music
A few lone voices cry out for waiting, for settling into Advent,
to set up an outdoor light machine in our living room just to say we decorated.
The world prepares for a baby
the way Mary herself could not on the road to Bethlehem:
scurrying, nesting, cooking, sharing glimpses of new life, celebrating with loved ones.
My baby would be coming this month.
I would be singing her Christmas carols and arguing with my spouse about
if we will teach her about Santa Claus,
but instead I am empty
my baby is dead.
I should have been heavy with something besides grief;
I should have been nesting and celebrating
or maybe binge watching Netflix with my ankles propped up
but instead I am out of touch with time
instead I sit on the floor
these stupid lights playing across my skin
I wonder how I can preach good news on Christmas Eve
how I can treasure words of scripture and ponder them in my heart
when my baby isn’t laying even in some makeshift crib like Jesus did
my baby is dead
and I am so empty
Comfort, oh comfort, my people, says your God.
Every valley shall be lifted up…
I may not spend this Advent or Christmas as Mary did.
I may not be able to gaze into a manger or read of wise men bringing gifts,
But there is
something in this time of waiting for me still
Maybe not hope for a baby.
But hope that God interrupts our pain to speak tenderly to us,
sit on the floor with us without even turning off the outdoor light display that shouldn’t be on indoors
that when God put on flesh,
God felt grief kicking inside, God was weighed down by the heaviness of grief
If God is in a body like mine, a failed body,
maybe God is in me too.
Rev. Shannon E. Sullivan (she, her, hers) is a life-long feminist and United Methodist currently serving the community of Frederick, Maryland, as the associate pastor of Calvary. She is a proud graduate of Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey.
She is married to Aaron Harrington, her high school sweetheart, who is a pilot and all around aviation geek. They have no living children but have filled their home with cats, a boxer puppy, and chickens in addition to mountains of books and airplane parts. When they are able, they travel and find that their favorite adventures are usually unplanned.