Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Overdue

Years ago, when I was working as a birth doula, I was the one offering words to calm anxious expectant mothers who were pregnant past their due dates.

“Just breathe—enjoy these last few days before your life changes forever!”
“Take this opportunity to nap, go out to dinner with your spouse, or finish that project.”
“Don’t worry—the baby will come when he’s good and ready.”

None of these words of so-called comfort actually helped, of course. The agony of waiting for baby is only relieved by the appearance of the first signs of labor. And as much as I wanted to be supportive, I had no idea what these mothers were really going through. Sure, I had given birth—twice!—but my first child was born on his actual due date, and my second arrived a full three weeks early. What did I know about waiting?

But now here I am, six days overdue to begin my new life as a missionary in Jerusalem, and to all the pregnant moms on whom I inflicted those hollow words of comfort, I’d like to say: I’m sorry! Because waiting stinks.

In the five weeks that my family has been on the road, waiting to deploy, I’ve eaten every burger between Chicago and Texas, and have met my yearly bacon quota (“Better get it while you can!”) My spouse and I have had more dates in the last month than in the previous several years combined. We’ve taken our kids bowling in at least three states. I’ve completed two knitting projects. Our friends and family have been helpful and supportive, as our departure date has come and gone. And still, we wait. Our new “due date” is in four days—we hope.

Being overdue stinks! We’re ready to go. Our hearts are already in Jerusalem.

But, of course, there’s a bigger picture here. This isn’t really about us. Waiting for approval to deploy to the mission field is one thing.

Waiting for justice, peace, and a future free from occupation is quite another.

What do I know about waiting?

The Palestinian Christians we are being sent to accompany are sixty years overdue. For more than sixty years, they’ve carried the increasing weight of the Israeli occupation. For more than sixty years, they’ve heard the international community offer words of hollow comfort and support. For more than sixty years, they’ve been praying and watching for signs that something new is about to be birthed.

Today, my prayer is that the violence of the past few weeks, which is keeping us in travel limbo, is actually a sign of the impending birth of peace with justice for the Palestinian people. No more false labor. No more revised due dates. No more hollow words of comfort. This time, let the voices of the international community  join the cries of the mothers in Palestine and Israel—the whole creation, groaning together in the pains of childbirth, until peace is finally born.