The organization I work for has found itself in a threshold season. As Christine Valters Paintner writes in her newest book, Birthing the Holy: Wisdom from Mary to Nurture Creativity and Renewal, “Thresholds are liminal times when the past season has come to a close but there is a profound unknowing of what will come next.” And so I found her archetype of Mary as the Gate of Heaven to be quite helpful for reflection.
This collection of 31 reflections is designed for flexible use, as a resource, devotional, or retreat guide. Artist Kreg Yingst created a unique block print to accompany each of the short offerings which conclude with a beautifully crafted blessing.
A follower of Painter’s work through her Abbey of the Arts resource, I was eager to receive and read this new collection of thoughts and prompts (You can read my review of her earlier book here.) Using Mary as guide, Painter offers entry points to understanding the gifts of the sacred feminine that can enliven our spiritual lives and expand our thinking around the definitions and expression of Christian womanhood.
While there were a number of images offered that I want to come back to, in Advent this year, I want to spend more time reflecting on the ways that Mary teaches us “creativity isn’t always about doing and producing; it is also about incubating and gestating,” as Painter notes.
“We live in a culture terrified of slowing down…in our rush to produce endlessly, we do real damage to our bodies and our souls. Every birth, whether physical or spiritual requires a period of time for incubation and gestation. There is no way to hurry this process; whatever new life is growing needs time and space to grow into strength before it is revealed into the world.” And, I might add, for those who have birthed new life, there is also a time needed for resting and healing, for getting acquainted with the new life that has emerged (whether what was birthed or who you now are as mother).
As we move into autumn, reflecting on the change of seasons and the role of hibernation and death in the way of things, may we all be attentive to what might be gestating, to what might need rest and quiet to form, to what is slowly unfolding among us.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Birthing the Holy from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.