Mar 24 2018

April Theme: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Emergence?

Published by at 11:17 pm under Minister's Musings

The Hard Labor of Giving Birth to Our Selves

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones


In the two-character show I Do! I Do!—an old chestnut from the American musical-theater catalogue—the actors play a married couple over the course of 50 years, from newly-wed bliss to the transformations of old age. Pretty early on, the woman, Agnes, goes into labor with their first child. She clings to a bedpost, rocked by pain, while her spouse Michael dithers about, so excited and nervous about new parenthood that he can’t get it together to get them out the door and to the hospital. Agnes’s labor pains grow harder and harder until finally she turns on him, and in a voice that has suddenly dropped two octaves and ratcheted up in decibels, she shouts in no uncertain terms:

Michael! GO GET THE CAR!!!

          When I play Agnes in the Marin Theatre Company production of I Do! I Do!, I ask an obstetrical nurse about the stages of labor, since I haven’t experienced it myself. “Oh, yes,” she says. “When hard labor hits, we never know what will come out of the woman’s mouth.” Some may grow angry—who caused this mess? Some may wonder how they will ever make it through. Surely most expectant parents are filled with anticipation, wonder, and fear: Who will this new person be that they are bringing into the world? Will everything be all right?

          As we enter into this month of April with its theme of Emergence, the metaphor of giving birth keeps rising in my mind. We human beings are constantly called to give birth to the new—in ourselves, in our communities, in our world.

What is longing to be born in you right now? A new career, a new relationship? Some new wisdom or perspective that will help you deal with the stresses that assault us every day? Some new contribution to your family or communities that will Make Love Visible in small but sparkling ways?

What is longing to be born in us as a community right now? We anticipate bringing onto our staff a new Interim Director of Religious Education beginning in June or July. How will we integrate this new person into our life as a Beloved Community? How will this new religious professional, passionate about our faith, help us to learn and grow?

In my life, I have reached the “hard labor” stage of finishing the revisions on the book that Karin Lin and I are writing (working title: Mistakes, Misgivings, and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism). Oh, how this piece of work is longing to be born! And oh, how ready we are to send it on its way!

But we have a few more months of truly difficult “pushing” to get it off to the publisher by midsummer. Like an expectant mother who has other children at home and plenty of other responsibilities to attend to, I feel torn about how to care for everything and everyone at once. Yet I know that this new birth requires some fierce focus in order to get it out into the world, and we hope that the life it takes on will be worth all the sacrifice.

So if you notice a wild look in my eye in the weeks to come—if I take fewer appointments and am slower than usual to respond to emails (my cell phone is always the best way to reach me)—please know that I am still attending to the most crucial aspects of our congregational work together, while encouraging this baby to emerge, full blown, at last.


With determination and love,


Rev. Nancy



P.S. The picture shows me as Agnes with Jack Shearer as Michael, singing about our life as new parents, in Marin Theatre Company’s production of I Do! I Do! in the early 1990s.

Comments Off on April Theme: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Emergence?

Comments are closed at this time.