The Young One and Her Mother 5/22/15
She is licking her new born fawn. Either the morning dew or her placental remnant. She is tender, loving. Each lick an opportunity to touch, to bond, to endear herself to this new being she has birthed.
It is a cool morning. They stand in the shade of gathered elm trees taking in a few precious moments of intimate bliss. They work in unison. The mother lapping and sniffing—occasionally raising her head, as if aware of my presence. The young one—hours old? A day old? Moves in tandem to be caressed by her mother’s muzzle.
The young one is speckled brown and white. Its legs are mere saplings, twigs barely strong enough to hold any weight—let alone be nimble or fleet. Yet they hold. Sturdy. Steady. They hold.
There is a serenity in the scene—something Mary-esque about the mother as she gazes into her child’s eyes. It is a holy nativity lacking angels and shepherds and Joseph and fidgety children struggling to remember their lines—but it is holy…and it is nativity.
I hope they savor this moment. The world in which they live is filled with danger. Cars come by this place too fast, too intent to be able to stop in time. Coyotes yip and yowl. Coyotes are either gleeful school children out for recess or they are blood-thirsty terrorist seeking sacrifice. It is hard to discern the difference.
I will see these two again. I am sure. Either in the serenity of my backyard, or on the road between here and there. I will see them in their tenderness. I will see them in their intimacy. I will see them. I will.
Written several years ago, I caught the young one and her mother out of the corner of my eye in my backyard. It continues to strike me as a moment of extreme tenderness. A moment I have witnessed twice with my own children and countless other times being presented with the fresh born life given to our care.
We need the tenderness. We need the intimacy. We need to look into the face of pure love and see ourselves reflected there. We need to gaze into the face of pure love and see the rest of humanity reflected there.
Birth is difficult. I imagine it was hard for that doe to birth that fawn on that May morning. I have yet to meet a mother that has decided that the child was not worth the pain of childbearing—I hope I never do. We, too, are born and reborn—each with pain and struggle, each with blood and sweat, each with complication and difficulty.
On of my favorite poems by T.S. Eliot, ‘The Journey of the Magi’ connects the journey of the magi to find the Christ child with his own journey to find Christ. The poem ends:
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
and I would do it again, but set down
this set down
this: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
we had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
but had thought they were different; this Birth was
hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
with an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
Were we led all this way for birth or death? [I desperately want to leave this as a hypothetical question but cannot.] We were led all this way for birth AND death. Dying is living. Living is dying. Each gives way to the other.
If this birth is difficult for you, remember that it is difficult for everyone. We must each endure the painstruggle, bloodsweat, complicationdifficulty to embrace this birth and enter the world sensitive and vulnerable again.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.