She chose to be married on the island where she was born. Why I wondered? Why not choose a new place without generations of family history? Maria and her beloved Marty were clear. The date was set for their island wedding. September 10, 2017. It’s their wedding, their choice. “Trust” was the word that emerged for me and the word that became my mantra through their wedding year. Trust not knowing, trust your daughter, trust the unfolding, trust the weather, trust the Universe, trust love. There, right there is where I anchor my trust, in LOVE. In the deepest, most powerful love in the Universe, the love between mother and child. Here, we see the essential, unconditional love that began the Universe and sustains it in every moment.
As soon as we stepped off the ferry, I was home. I could feel the island opening her arms wide to embrace us. I am still amazed by the loving, genuine welcome by island friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in 25 years., showing up to celebrate with us. “I remember the day she was born,” a dear friend said. “I’m honored to celebrate with you,” said my long ago Montessori student, now Sea Captain, as he set sail with the wedding party, aboard his schooner. Tears of joyous recognition greeted us wherever we went. My favorite Sea Chantey man climbed aboard the schooner and sang a love song for the soon to be Bride and Groom. “Too long, too long,” said the great Sea Captain, as I climbed out of the yawl boat to greet him. Tears filled my eyes.
I see. We didn’t return to rehash the past. We came back to harvest the love. The memories, and there were many as we travelled old, familiar paths, rather than being heavy weights, felt more like blessings, surrounding us like a warm blanket. And most were delightful. After all, this island was a family vacation spot before it became my year round residence for fifteen years. I remember learning to square dance at the Chilmark Community Center with my dad as a young girl; rowing across Chilmark Pond with my dad and sister to watch the sunrise, brilliant sunsets over the Aquinnah Cliffs; playing with my daughter in the white sands of Lambert’s Cove Beach, watching the fishing boats come into the port of Menemsha, with my young sons, world class breakfasts at the Black Dog Tavern, favorite country roads, favorite views. Best of all, favorite people. After 25 years away, it's nice to know that the island is still here. Bless the islanders and lifelong friends who stay and maintain this paradise.
There’s a perceptible flow carrying us to the wedding day, as if we had stepped into a gently moving river. Sunny, clear skies and smiles surround us as friends and family gather from near and far. My niece traveled from Africa, the Maid of Honor came from Spain, one of Maria’s close childhood friends traveled from California. Near or far, it is an effort to reach this island, separated from the mainland by Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Queen of the travelers was my 87 year- old mother, who traveled for two days to see her firstborn grandchild be married.
The morning of the wedding, preparations are underway in the Field Club Spa. Make-up and hairdos, laughter and coffee, bridesmaids pinning dresses, flower girls trying on their flowery crowns, ring bearers struggling with suspenders, Mother of the Groom aglow in her silver, sparkly dress and me, Mother of the Bride, taking this all in, amazed by the easy unfolding.
The elegant, earthly simplicity of the Venue sets a calming and inspiring tone. Browsing the scene, I step into the Reception Tent and into another exquisitely beautiful world. The gentle green and white floral arrangements, the soft sparkly lights, the arbor of flowers over the Bridal table…I delight in my daughter’s masterful touches and in the tireless, passionate devotion of the wedding team.
I notice a woman walking toward me. “Hi Deborah, do you remember me?” she asks as she comes near. In a moment I know who she is, my beloved midwife. We embrace and again, tears fill my eyes. Was it really 30 years ago that she placed her wise hands on my growing belly and listened with such love and care to my daughter’s strong heartbeat? “You are a woman,” I remember her saying, “Your body knows how to grow a baby.” Through her patient, wise guidance I learned to trust my body, my baby, the unknown, and the process of birth during my first pregnancy. By simply placing her hands on my belly, she could accurately determine my baby’s position, size and gender. Technology errs greatly compared to the experienced, wise hands of a midwife.
I am grateful that she is here. Her presence helps me to bring clarity and wisdom to all that stirs in my heart. Again, she offers her support for another birth. For in marriage, a new partnership is born, hopes for a lifetime of love and prosperity, radiant health and joy. We all gather to bless and celebrate this new life as we hear and feel its strong, heartbeat, its powerful promise and behold their radiant love.
“May this day be the day you celebrate your love the least,” the Matron of Honor exclaimed.
As Mother of the Bride, I bow in gratitude.
“Birth is all around
Just look, in every moment
We forgive and breathe”
All birth is Sacred...look to nature
Every pregnant woman is a Goddess. As she labors to bring forth new life, she embodies the Divine Mother, creator of all life and deserves the highest respect.
Is there any sound more beautiful, more sacred than the sound of your baby’s first breath?
When I was seven years old, I got to choose a kitten as my own. I chose a gray one with white paws. I named her Mittens.
A year later, Mittens was ready to give birth to her first litter of kittens. She chose my closet as her birthing room. My mom, my siblings and I found her a cardboard box and lined it with soft towels. We placed the box in a corner of my closet and waited.
I didn’t know what to expect. My senses were attuned to changes in my cat.
One evening I heard Mittens softly mewing in my closet. I crawled in next to her. I stroked her head and she purred softly.
The closet was dark and quiet. I felt peaceful sitting with her.
My siblings wandered in and Mittens growled. They respected her space and left. Mittens was teaching us what she needed in order to give birth.
She continued to allow me to sit with her. I began to notice her rhythms. Meow….. purr……meow….purr….. work and rest, work and rest.
Then her rhythms shifted. Meow meow meow meow! And in moments her first baby kitten wriggled out of her body! Mittens licked her baby, nuzzled her, purred and softly assisted her to her nipples with her gentle paws. Tears filled my eyes. My baby cat is a mama now! And she is such a loving, patient mama.
My siblings heard the commotion and hovered at the door.
“What color is her fur? Long or short? Girl or boy? What should we name her?”
Before I could answer, Mitten’s chorus of meows began again as she birthed her second kitten. Slowly and with powerful trust, Mittens ushered two more kittens into the world. Four soft mewing babies all welcomed with licks and purrs, warm fur and mama’s milk.
Mittens was instinctively protective of her new babies. We knew not to touch them. One calico, one orange, one tiger, one gray and white, each precious and perfect. We brought our new mama cat food and water in those first days. She allowed my siblings to look in and we sang to her, celebrated with her, rejoiced with her, all with quiet voices and big smiles.
Twice a year until I went to college, I sat with Mittens in a dark, quiet corner of my closet and stroked her head, honored to support her and witness the miracle of birth again and again.
Birthing my own three children, I drew on this experience.
Birth is sacred and holy, private and quiet, surrounded by loving support. This is my picture of birth.