I was one of those fortunate women who have very easy labours. Perhaps this is why I never stopped hankering after "just one more baby" - or perhaps that was simply because I didn't really want to grow up. Who knows? However, I could guarantee that even in the shortest and most straightforward of labours (my longest lasted a cool 4 hours) there would be one stage in which I would become thoroughly miserable and unreasonable, ask if I could call the whole thing off and generally rue the day that I ever contemplated motherhood.
This stage will be familiar to parents as transition........and since then I've realised that I don't much enjoy other transitions either.
I don't think many people do.
Currently, I've several friends and family members who are in that threshold space. My beloved daughter Hattie Gandhi returns here this evening, leaving the city that she has loved since her arrival as a 1st year undergraduate. With 2 degrees to her name, she has certainly made the most of her time there in every possible way - and I know it's hard for her to head back to the vicarage, which has never been home for her, with no idea of what comes next.
Meanwhile, a dear friend is waiting to begin a new ministry in a new place and going through all the uncomfortable adjustments that this entails - coupled with the awful bereavement that seems to be part of leaving any parish, at least until the next chapter really begins...and others are on their ordination retreats, contemplating stepping through the door into a completely different world.
Another has just announced that she will be leaving this country and heading across the Pond...And I spent yesterday morning at the Cathedral with the year 6 from valley church school, as they attended the diocesan Leavers' service.
And so it goes on.
Transitions wherever I turn.
So - for all of these dear dear people, specially those who are struggling with what comes next, a prayer by beloved John O'Donahue, from "Benedictus"
For the interim time
When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while, it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of dark.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.
The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you had outgrown.
What is being transfigured here is your mind
And it is difficult and slow to become new,
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
PS. Oh - and for the record - after transition came the hardest work of labour - and then three joyful deliveries. Well worth enduring for!