The gift of light.
There is cause to reflect upon my journey as a mother as I step towards this fourth birth. I found out I was expecting our first shortly after our wedding; I remember a photo my sister took of us as we headed giddily to our first midwife appointment. I was glowing from newlywed bliss, and we both looked so innocent and well-rested! And was I slim! Nearing the end of that pregnancy, my sisters hosted a blessingway for me, full of beautiful, sacred rituals to honour the transition I would soon be making into the yet uncharted territory (for me) of motherhood.
Two more pregnancies and blessings later, I felt that things should be a little different this time. I still wanted to honour this baby's arrival, but felt that having been "in the trenches" for the past seven years, I was more interested in a celebratory hootenanny! I knew what I wanted: my daughters and older nieces present, a circle of amazing women, and drumming. I passed the planning on to my sisters, and all I had to do on the day was to arrive at mom's house!
The name we have chosen for our babe means "bright light" or "enlightened one"; she will be born at the darkest time of year and I love the symbolism of her shedding her light in our lives. At my blessing, I was gifted with inspiring words, quotations, and songs on the theme of light, and with a candle from each woman present. The intent is that when I am in labour, I will light the candles so that their warmth and light will buoy my spirits as my friends do until the babe is born. Lots of tears were shed, many smiles were shared, and every single hug poured strength into my soul.
Once the gifting of candles and words was complete, we did what women do best: we ate a beautiful feast of corn chowder, Moroccan stew, homemade biscuits, and a gorgeous cake while gathering in smaller circles to catch up, laugh, and gab! Then it was time to drum.
There are few things more powerful than a group of women sitting in a circle, speaking together through the rhythms that are shared throughout Africa and the world. Djole, Tassaba, Kuku, and Sorsonet...they just sound like whispered charms full of magic and power. As they are! My sister said it best: every young girl should receive a djembe as a coming-of-age gift. My heart was full to bursting at the sound of my daughters, sisters, and mother trying their hands at drumming, and the sight of my sister and niece dancing around the room with wild abandon!
Feet on the earth, hands on a drum.
With all the preparing that I've been doing, perhaps this was the most important: the preparation of my soul for the incredible task that lies ahead, through food, companionship, music, dancing, and light.