Monday, July 1, 2013

May the force be with us

When a woman becomes pregnant, her life is forever changed. Whether she gives birth, miscarries or terminates the pregnancy, she will never be the same. She will remember and rejoice or grieve. Conception is a really big deal, even though it happens every day. It's a miracle.

I'm thinking about this because of the Texas senator who successfully filibustered a proposed law that would have limited access to termination. Stand with Wendy. It was a brave thing she did and also absurd that she had to do it. I heard this morning on NPR that Gov. Rick Perry will again try to push the bill through this week. Good lord.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is a private matter that would, in a world of my making, be carefully considered by the pregnant woman and those nearest and dearest to her. How I wish women had access to counseling (no agenda counseling, real therapy) before making these decisions, or to another way of sitting with the question of what happens next. Even for women who have been trying to get pregnant, the news is always a shock. Women considering termination should sink into a deep state of prayer or meditation, ask for guidance from something far more soulful than the Texas state legislature. No offense to the lawmakers, but they are not qualified to make these decisions.

By the way, I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion. That term is clever in a marketing/branding way, but completely untrue. Nor does pro-life explain much of anything about those who seek to legally curtail access.

Pregnancy termination is a hotly and bitterly contested topic because conception-pregnancy-birth is one the great mysteries of living life in a body. We take it for granted, I think, because there are so many of us. We should not take it for granted. Maybe if we didn't, it would become clear that is is not a matter for the courts. It's so much bigger than that.

What I experience shamanically with the pregnant women who see me for bodywork is that the soul of the being forming inside the mother comes and goes throughout pregnancy. In utero, we are not completely ensouled. I sense that lengthy negotiations take place between the worlds before and even after birth. There is a life force in the developing fetus, but not always a sense of the personality and soul. Sometimes there is, as if the soul is trying on the baby's body - like in a dressing room at Ann Taylor. The connection is tenuous. For almost every baby I've known, the deal isn't sealed until after the fourth trimester, as they call it. There are exceptions, of course. Mostly, very young infants are like beings from another planet, coming and going from their tiny bodies, still trying to decide whether to stick around. Right around three months of age, it seems to me most babies become fully ensouled, committed to this incarnation. When a baby starts teething, to my shamanic eye, they are fully ensouled. I always breathe a sigh of relief when the baby starts drooling and chewing on things. They are finally fully here.

One of the reasons it's traditional to give babies rattles is because it was (and still is in some places, not in the U.S.) thought that the rattle will keep the baby's soul intact in the body. Will it? I don't know, but it doesn't hurt to do a little shamanic rattling around newborns, so, why not? I like the silver ones, but babies like rattles they can chew on, once they're ensouled.

Sometimes during the negotiations prior to birth, a deal can not be struck for the new incarnation. Sometimes that means miscarriage, sometimes, medical termination of the pregnancy. It is a sad decision with roots that go much deeper than anything that can be legislated, also deeper than the life circumstances of the pregnant woman. The roots of a decision to terminate are not about making a moral choice. Incarnating or not incarnating goes beyond our human sense of morality. Conception is spiritual matter with a physical circumstance. This mystery is incomprehensible, overwhelming. Of course it is.

I understand every point of view, I really do, though I support a woman's right to choose 100%. It's no wonder we become confused, or quickly angered, or frightened, when the issue of pregnancy termination comes up. We think we can understand it legally, or scientifically, but no miracle can ever be explained through the tunnel vision of law, or the tunnel vision of science. C'mon.

May a greater wisdom inspire the members of the Texas legislature. And - the rest of us, too, please?



Susan Carpenter Sims said...

This is truly the best thing I've ever read on this topic.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks! I realize this, like most of my opinions, is not part of mainstream thought in our society. I appreciate the encouragement!

Richard Hoffman said...

One of the best recent articles I've seen about this topic is here:

Kerry said...

Reya, thank you for this. I read it through 3 times. You have articulated something that is very difficult.

As for very young babies, I remember taking photos of my newborn grandson and thinking later as I looked at the pics...he is not of this world...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. You've captured my intuitive feeling about the babies I carried to term, and also the two that I did not. I recall my mother's later pregnancies as joyful discoveries that seemed 'known' within weeks of conception ... except for the one that spontaneously miscarried itself at 14 weeks, which never seemed to really be 'true' the whole time it was in progress.

ellen abbott said...

thanks Reya. this makes so much sense. I'm not one of those who think that life starts at conception, the possibility of life, yes, but there is no life without breath. and if a pregnancy is terminated, the interested soul will find another body.