Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Labor

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction.

8A Song of Songs 8.1-5                           The Labor

1. O that you were like a brother to me, who nursed at my mother’s breast! If I met you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me.  2. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother and into the chamber of the one who bore me.  I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranates. 3. O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me! 4. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!  5.  Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.

Advent reminds us that the crowning event for any soul bond is to bring a child into life.  This doesn’t always mean giving birth. 

I have a friend, a great theologian, who thinks that the pain of childbirth refers not to labor but to the pain, which is the drama of the child’s unfolding life.

Sage Wendell Berry puts it well:

“For parents, the only way is hard.  We who give life give pain.  There is no help.  Yet we who give pain give love; by pain we learn the extremity of love.”

Soul bonds that give life can look like anything from bearing a child, adoption, foster care, mentoring.  I wonder what Joseph felt on that winter’s night when Mary brought a child into life yet it was not his?  If ever the importance of adoption was highlighted in Advent.

And there was the virgin pressing out her child among the mud and hay.  What must have run through her complexity of emotions and will that night? Through her growing bond of love with a faithful man, she was brining into life the Great Lover of Humankind who would suffer greatly.  Here was a God who made himself helpless and tender. He placed Himself in the loving arms of humanity.  Will we care for Him in love and give our selves in return? Will we let a silent night transform the fragmented chaos of our bustling life project?  Will we find our way like the Kings, Shepherds, and Angels, and a faithful couple to the unmarked place where the drama of the gods seeks to fulfill our greatest desires?  For it is in that place where our glory and calling can help a million lives find theirs.