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Editor’s note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, current missioner Janice Smullen reflects on the joy that she’s received from her role as a doula, a person who is trained to assist a woman before, during, and after childbirth both physically and emotionally.

Although I have never seen a doula depicted as being present at the Nativity, being accepted as a doula for a mother today is a wonderful opportunity to provide unique care and receive great satisfaction – Comfort and Joy both ways!

I like to imagine the environment that welcomed Mary and Joseph as they prepared for birth. I am sure they felt stress from the political climate and exertion from the journey but the dark and quiet space, with a lullaby of animal sounds in the background and (I hope!) the constant presence of Joseph and Mary’s profound trust in God could create an atmosphere conducive to a natural and uncomplicated birth and the arrival of an alert and attentive baby Jesus.

Peace begins in the womb long before birth. Ideally there is a chemical and hormonal balance within the body that has reaped the benefits of healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, moderate exercise, no exposure to toxins, and reduced stress. Can we even imagine the numbers of mothers, fathers, and babies the world over that do NOT enjoy these factors?

Members of the future generation are often born malnourished and already incorporating enough stress within their systems to prevent them from experiencing a sense of calm and good health outside of the womb.

Peace on earth can begin with each of us nurturing the True Good that God wants us to be. As in labor, when our defenses are down and we feel that we are out of control, we can be open to the most growth. Jesus can be our doula for that rebirth.

I can help a mother recognize the signs of labor as natural to empower her to handle it with relaxation techniques. In the same way, we can relax into His arms knowing that Grace and Love enables us to be all that He hopes us to be.

I can help a mother to focus and breathe and accept each step as part of the process of birth just as we can focus on His promise of care and His breath of hope as we encounter obstacles.

I can reassure a mother that her body is made for this and she CAN do this just as we need to be reassured often that God has a divine and wonderful plan for us.

I can sit or nourish or massage or listen and attend to a mother’s needs whether she is aware of me or not, just as we often go through parts of life when we don’t acknowledge God’s presence.

I can joyfully celebrate with tears and laughter and awe as this new being is held and loved into a new family on this earth just as God rejoices in our victories (Ps 21:1). Just as I often hear, “Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you,” these are the words I voice in my own moments of peace. Comfort and Joy in both directions, now and forever.

Question for reflection: How can this Advent be a season of rebirth for you? In what ways do you need to be reassured of God’s presence and plan?

*Featured image: adaptation of photo by Wikimedia – Creative Commons

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