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  • Katie Bramhall, Midwife

Silent Night


Silent night, holy night. Sleep in heavenly peace

To have one very long night every year.  A Blessed silence…longer than all year.  Just once a year. 

As I write...one tear down my face.  Just one is needed tonight. It illustrates to me, my open, open, partially broken, very full, beating heart.

On this shortest day I was asked to be present to a poignant blend of excruciating pain, brilliant delight, quiet comfort and gentle, new beginnings…a full pallet of human condition. One of the creators must have had the idea that in this small corner of the universe, my heart would have enough hope to hold a few folks who are in some primal pain.

The instruction was simply to offer love. I can never say no to love.    I thank the creators for the brilliance to at least give me a very long night in the wake of today.

I don’t believe in original sin. As a little girl and into my 30’s I pondered that concept endlessly.  I asked religious people about it from all denominations for over two decades.  It was my burning question of life.  I thought about it all the time as I wandered in my earlier life and witnessed so many people in so much pain. And I saw how that pain translated into actions of unkindness of many kinds. But when I really looked into most people’s eyes…something I tried to do as often as I could, I saw mostly confusion and pain. Not sin…whatever that is.  If I couldn’t believe in sin and couldn’t understand it, and if pain and suffering were what I experienced and understood as the root-cause of unkindness, I came to the conclusion that sin doesn’t even exist.

Then I figured out that probably religions just made a Grand Mistake and really meant to write something different.  I really do think that the concept of sin was nothing more than a tragic typographic error in translation…a mis-read spelling of Pain. And that if we could press  ‘rewind’ of a couple of millennia of lifetimes, replace the concept of sin with human pain, humanity would turn out pretty differently.  Because what I have seen over and over is that people let Sin represents blame, and pain is simply a divine and exquisite opportunity for love and compassion. I think someone got the translation of pain wrong. 

I’m convinced.

I am blessed to receive babies into the world and into the arms and hearts of their families.  I see first expressions…first impressions...in the eyes of new babies.  And I have never, ever seen sin in those faces.  Not even close.  I have seen confusion, overwhelm, calm, curiosity, wonder, fear and even pain.  Never sin.  When a baby is born into my hands I pray a prayer of love. 

That there will not only be enough love in their life, but enough love in their family’s life and their friend’s life and the friends of their family’s life and their teacher’s life….and so on.

Because Love is what Pain is really seeking.

Today, life took me back to the beginning of my ponderings of human suffering and pain and sin and love and humanity. And in the exact middle of Life and my Pondering, as Karen and I were driving from one Human Condition to another in our work day, down a muddy Vermont back road, hearts broken from the impossibility of Primal Pain… A rainbow. 

In winter. It didn’t make it better.  Just gave us enough of a smile to finish the day. Because who ever thinks of rainbows in winter?

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