Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Birth, Breath & Death:Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy and Life as a Doula," a book by Amy Wright Glenn

It's a slim memoir, about 100 pages long, but Amy Wright Glenn's memoir "Birth, Breath & Death," has stayed with me log after I finished it. The book is about how, as a young woman, she eschewed Mormonism to find her own spiritual path. She sought to understand all religions, and their commonality. She also put herself in challenging situations to learn about the two most important and spiritual aspects  life -- the birth and death parts -- which many of us find too personal and difficult to face with others (or even ourselves.)

Becoming a doula, even when she was unsure she wanted to be a mother herself, takes a wide-open mind and heart. Still, I can see why one might become a doula. To help a woman in labor is to be present at a miracle. But to help individuals and their family and friends meet the end is to surround yourself with sadness. That takes a kind of mettle that I cannot fathom, but am certainly grateful exists. Amy's willingness to confront death in many forms, with fortitude and grace, is mind-bending. The one exception to her willingness is when someone asks her to perform an exorcism. This scene becomes a form of comic relief in the book, though I don't think she wrote it to be funny.

"We dance between form and formlessness," she writes. These words made me pause. Yes, so much exists before we are born and after we die. If we're not dancing in between we are wasting time.