Easter’s Octave-one birth, and one death
Surrexit Christus hodie! Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
It is a beautiful week for the octave (eight days following) of Easter. Daffodils are in full bloom and birds are sitting on their eggs, so it seems a fitting time to celebrate our new life in Christ’s resurrection.
I am on the countdown of the last month till graduation. This week will see my last clinical day, when I work in the hospital as a student nurse. I am greatly anticipating the end of 5 am mornings coupled with hours of school reports afterward. I know I will be back to the hospital in July-as a full fledged nurse.
My final clinical rotation has been on the labor and delivery floor, it has been an amazing experience. I have been waiting for my Maternal and Fetal health class since the beginning of freshman year, and the unit did not disappoint. There has been an endless supply of newborns to hold, and I have loved caring for the tired but happy mothers.
During my time the unit I was privileged to assist at a birth, and additionally powerful experience since that the birth was during Holy Week, in the midst of the Triduum. As my lead nurse and I cared for the patient at the bedside, my mind was brought repeatedly to the verses of scripture referencing a woman’s experience of childbirth. The day left me keenly aware that the joy of the entrance of a new life must occur in the midst of great suffering. I recalled the words spoken in the Garden of Eden.
In sorrow will you bring forth children ~Genesis 3:16
And as I had just heard the Gospel read which told of the agony Our Lord in the garden, I remembered that I had often heard of the parallels between Eden and Gethsemane, which was not unlike the dread I had witnessed in the patient. I also thought of how similar language is used in the New Testament to speak of both labor and the Passion.
A woman, when she is in labour, has sorrow, because her hour is come ~ John 16:21
Christ often spoke of His coming suffering on the cross as His ‘hour’. The joy of Easter was coming, but first He had to bear the angst of Gethsemene, blood loss of the scourging, and finally undertake several hours of strenuous work as he suffered death on the cross. (One undergoing crucifixion must lift themselves by their arms and legs in order to take a breath, due to the extremely unnatural posture and weight distribution (1.)
The Crucifixion by Hans con Aachman
It was in the garden that both the pain of childbirth and the coming of Savior was promised to undo the evil that had entered the world.
I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: He shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for His heel. ~Genesis 3:15
I stood nearby my patient as climax of her struggle approached, unable to do anything more to help or assist her. Not long after, the world heard the first cries of a new voice in the world, and it was beautiful. As we sung the joyous hymns at Easter Mass, I kept in mind that Jesus compared the joy that would accompany His resurrection would be like the joy of a new mother.
But when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you. ~ John 16:22
Resurrection of Christ by Hendrick van den Broeck
(1)Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion