Saturday, February 1, 2020

Updating Midwifery

Midwifery in daily conversations

Listening can provide transformation, new birth, renewal. I know this. I have seen this. I have done this. I am convinced the Holy Spirit works in our midst at the same time for the birthing process. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3) where Jesus presented him with midwifery, bring born again.

Ever fascinating is bringing the Socratic method consciousness into everyday conversations for Aha’s, insights, new understanding, enlightenment, etc. and then the blessing of acknowledgement. 

Socrates was concerned about finding truth. And such is the concern for most of us although we live in a time of great deception in the political arena. Midwifery has more in common with poetics than politics.  

A farmer came to the pastoral care office with a picture of a lady hugging a tombstone at the Rock Island Arsenal. As he put the picture on my desk he said "I don't want to be like this." Or as St. Paul said before him, "who will deliver us from this body of death." I said he did not have to be like that and the healing process began. He came back to life after a few visits and attending the grief recovery group. He later remarried and began a new life.

Another conversation began with these words, "I am not very religious, I always had too many questions." My question, "What do the first five letters of questions spell?" He said, "Quest." And I said, "That sounds like a very religious journey." The visit continued as he worked on the grief of his eight year old granddaughter who died from cancer.

"Now that my husband and I have lived our life," was what a lady said during her third admission to the hospital in a few months after her husband's death. I said, "I want you to keep saying that until you hear what you are saying." Shortly there was that Aha! moment when she realized she had died too. She did not return to the hospital with the same medical condition. This encounter took place a number of years ago. I still remember our visit very well. Another facet of the story, the doctor had written in the medical chart under family history, "non contributory." I don't think so. 

In the above examples confirm for me that I was called to be a mid-wife, assisting folks, parakaleo, being a called one along side as they make their journey back to life, arriving at a new place, renew, re-birthing, etc. This isn't a quick fix. Waiting, prayerful patience, remaining a presence, continually listening, are a few of the skills necessary as well as being a match maker when a person was close to a break through. Making new connections, susnesis, is the New Testament Greek word, becomes part of the experience as well. Guidance from the Holy Spirit is an ever present reality, unacknowledged at times. 

Being called to be a mid-wife does mean you will need to accept this role first of all as a listener. You have to be ready to be misunderstood and rejected as Socrates who names the process. For many it will mean giving up on what to do and what to say, fix it, since the answer needs to come from the one sharing their story rather than our controlling their story.

The midwife approach in ordinary conversation has a subtile revelation when at the end of the conversation “thanks for listening.” Or somehintng similar. Then you will know the subtlety of 
midwifery.  You have the blessing, the benedictum, the good word for acknowledging a new place, even the slightest release from stress. 

You can read more about midwife and maeutic education in one of Plato's Dialogues. "Theaetetus" For me the parables of Jesus are another form of midwifry and maeuitic education.

Marlin Whitmer 
Retired Hospital Chaplain,
Founder of the Befrienders, innovated Story Metaphor Listening

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