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I found this piece in a second hand store while on my honeymoon with my second hand husband.  When I met him, I was just coming out of the other end of a fairly painful passage in my life, one in which my entire world had been traumatically stripped from me and the bright new one was still coming into focus  (not unlike most births, after all) . During that long process, my understanding of love was also reconfigured, for the midwives in my world at that time had hearts and hands unlike any I had previously experienced, hands that were gentle and embracing, hands that were warm. I did not know that this is what it felt like to be held, to be welcomed, received and cherished.

For some time, I had carried a small photo in my pocket, a touchstone of sorts that my fingers would find to remind me of how I was to be received into this place, how I was to be loved. A miniature black and white Anne Geddes print, from her series of mother and child, became an image of God I could feel. And it, stroke by stroke, healed me as I learned to touch myself with tenderness.

One remarkable thing about that image for me, and this one too, is the mutuality in the love being received. I experience it so viscerally…the child receiving the embrace, and so the mother, deeply. You can feel her breathing it in, soothing her own world-weariness.

Perhaps the flood of feeling being released in me, when I gaze upon these, is my own body’s remembrance of receiving newborn infants into my arms … oxytocin and all. Of course, this is but a frozen moment in time, carved in stone so to speak, of the many that will forge any ongoing human relationship, and the ongoing growth in love, which can be so very hard in its own way. There may be pain and heartache, misunderstanding and frustration, anger and grief, yearning and disappointment, shame and rejection, fear and fatigue to fill up those same arms that have been lavished with joy and hope and great warmth.

But somehow, somehow, just when you think you can’t hold anymore, Love grows. Somehow Love holds it all, no matter how many times we fail, there is some place deeper we reach, some part that says, Yes, I can hold this too…. the pain and the failure, shame and grief, fear and fatigue… receiving the Love they so desperately need.


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