Before the Water had Abated
“The mistake of Noah sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of April, and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the patriarch.”
“What is the origin of April Fools?”
I was exhausted. I had been to too many births, held too many babies not alive, wiped the brow of too many mamas, wept too many tears. Weary.
Serving as a Birth and Bereavement Doula is my magnum opus. I don’t compare my role of doula to my role of motherhood – it is, in fact, an extension of it. I mother both through rearing and through mourning, and I serve families, who are born, who are stretched, sometimes through rearing, and sometimes through mourning.
But in this particular season, I have gone to too many births, in which the baby isn’t born alive. How do you calculate, how many are too many? But in this season, there have been too many.
Exhausted, sleep deprived, weary, I stirred my cocoa, curled on my sofa in the dark, the only light in the house coming from the glow of my cell phone. I decided to browse something that didn’t require my engagement, something I could maybe just sink into for a bit, before finally climbing heavily into my sheets and finally, drinking up some slumber.
Well, I discovered, there is no formal consensus on the origin of April Fools.
The trickery of April Fools is something we healing mothers are keenly attune to: please, do not make a joke about pretending you are pregnant.
But in this late night, lazy search, I came upon theories of April Fools I had not known of, including the quote that began this post: this idea of Noah erroneously sending the dove out on some wild goose chase, and that we somehow commemorate this perceived mistake through soliciting futile errands of our friends.
I gave a halfhearted chuckle in the night, as I felt the warmth of cocoa hugging my aching spirit.
But there’s something that remained. Something that was really resonating with me.
Being sent out, before the water had abated.
Thrice in ten days, I left one freshly postpartum family to travel directly to another family, laboring, preparing to meet their newest beloved, who would not be born alive. Too many babies.
Yes, I have felt sent out, before the water had abated. Before I had time to dry my eyes.
Healing community, the month known for its showers is upon us. The rains will come, and the waters will rise.
How many of us feel that we have been thrust onto a path of parenthood and we have not been placed on dry ground?
How many of us feel that we are just, sort of, floating in life right now? Or, sinking?
What I know about the dove, is that it came back. It returned to what it knew.
Healing community, when you feel you have been sent out before the water has been abated, go toward what you know.
Where is your refuge? Where do you draw your strength?
Do not leave your healing and parenthood journey dependent upon the unproductive, unhealthy, unreasonable opinions of others.
The truth about your parenthood journey, is that there are components that are as individual and unique as you are. And there are components, that are as wide and universal as would cover this globe. The dove wasn’t looking for the rainbow. The dove was cast above a bottomless, endless ocean. And even as light as feathers, the dove wasn’t created for nor intended to stay atop such an infinite wave. What a sight, to be cast upon such endless, dark waters. Whether a mistake or part of a divine plan, surely bearing witness to such a site, the dove was never the same again.
The dove was just looking for a safe place to call home.
Noah had hope that he’d find it. So did the dove. Their story isn’t about some mistake above the waters or even about their fear of facing the waters. It is, instead, about their hope, in the midst of the waters.
You’ve faced your dark waters, and your story is not about some mistake made or even about your fears. It is, instead, about your hope.
Find your safe place.
Find your home.
Find your hope.