*This is the second unsolicited “guest contribution” I’m delighted to post. It’s good to know that my own reflections are prompting others to reflect too. The image has also been chosen by the author. It’s “Dalit Madonna” by Jyoti Sahi and is part of the Methodist Art Collection.*
This week sees the celebration of my ‘special’ birthday. I don’t really do birthdays but this one seems to clamour not to be ignored. One of the reasons that I have generally tried not to think too hard on my birthday is because I am an adopted child. When people tell the joyful, or even simply routine, stories around their birth I have only been able to look back into a void which I have filled with my own conjectures. The day of my birth was the day that my mother handed me over to uncertainty. I don’t know the story that brought her to that point, not do I know much of her story afterwards. What must it be like to go to a maternity home many miles away from home and family? What must it be like to make that journey home again? Imagination is fertile in filling in the gaps – and in recent years this has been supplemented by the stories in Call the Midwife, set at just at the end of the 1950s. I don’t know my birth mother’s story but I do know something of the story of the couple who adopted me – of the tragedies and sadnesses that coloured their journey to a maternity home on the other side of a northern city and the contact, through a friend of a friend, that sent them home with a baby of their own.
What has this to do with being #courageous? Well, I have always thought it enormously brave to cast your baby adrift on the waters of life, like Moses’ mother (but without the attractive basketware) and hope that the right parents will turn up, like Pharoah’s daughter, to do for your child what you cannot. I am hugely grateful to my birth mother for the #courageous choices she made. I’d really like to have met her, if only to say ‘You did the right thing’. And I am hugely grateful to my parents for taking a #courageous chance on me, when others in their family were warning ‘you don’t know what you’re taking on’, and saving me with their unwavering love. #couragecan also be about how we make sense of our own past. I am grateful for the gift of life and for God’s providence which has held me even ‘while I was in my mother’s womb’. I am glad to be able to celebrate those. But I’ll take a moment on my birthday to light a candle and hold it against the darkness of the past. And pray for those who care, and those who suffer loss, wherever they may be.