You will know that Midwives are amongst my favourite people. And so this Christmas, with the Big Day approaching, I thought I would pay homage to them. This is especially the case because my Granddaughter Emilia was born last year at the marvellous Meadow Birth Centre at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and is soon to be one year old. In fact, the miracle of her birth has made me look at things in a different way. Sometimes that is what it takes.
And so I found myself wondering if Mary, the young woman with child (so far from her hometown with an older husband) had a midwife. The Bible story makes no mention of one, but in a community where social networks were close knit, surely someone came to this young women’s aid.
But where should we look?
Well it so happens that there is an ancient text called the Protevangelion of James which says that Joseph sought and found a Hebrew midwife. And here is the passage itself:
9. And the midwife went along with Joseph and stood in the cave [where Mary was about to give birth]
10. Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave, and the midwife said, This day my soul is magnified, for my eyes have seen surprising things, and salvation is brought forth to Israel.
11. But suddenly the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it.
12. But the light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and nursed at the breast of his mother Mary.
13. Then the midwife cried out and said, How glorious a day is this, wherein my eyes have seen this extraordinary sight!
It fact you can see her in the icon below.
There she is in the bottom right hand corner bathing the new baby.
And it got me thinking. How amazing to be the midwife whose hands and skill helped Jesus to enter the world and who gave comfort to Mary. How amazing that her hands were the first to touch this precious child.
A Midwife in the right place at the right time: at (for Christians at least) a pivotal point in human history.
But then I thought of my daughters Midwife Lucy. Helping her through labour. With her skill and hands. Her hands which gave the first, albeit brief, human contact to baby Emilia. So I want to join in with the words of this Hebrew Midwife: “How glorious a day is this wherein my eyes have seen this extraordinary sight!”
It’s funny but I don’t know many jaundiced and cynical midwives…I guess there are some but I haven’t met them at my hospital. I have met skilled staff who, even on their difficult days, catch something of the miracle of each new birth. And so to my friends Nick, Judi, Louise, Bryony, Lucy, Norma, Pam, Renate, Davidica, Deb, Rachel, Mel, Trudy and so many many more that I could name, I thank you. You are special people with special hands doing a special job.