So I got this fantastic idea this morning. I decided to celebrate Christmas on the Mother Nurture facebook page by sharing images of Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus. I “googled” Mary breastfeeding Jesus and, WOW, so many beautiful images appeared. As I have been sitting at my computer copying images and taking notes, I imagine that 2010 years ago (or so) that Mary has a beautiful, peaceful birth, welcomed her child into her own arms and I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that the first thing she did was put him to the breast. This gave me a bit of spiritual enlightenment into my own birth experience. Is it possible, that Mary and I share a common birth experience? Granted, I had a skilled midwife in attendance, but I was left in peace to labor and birth as I desired. As far as I know, Mary labored alone in a barn with her husband. I’m guessing he knew little about birth but I can also imagine that God would have chosen a supportive partner for His mother. My own husband knew little about birth, mostly stayed out of the way, but was right there quietly supporting me in the way that I needed him. My children came out of my body, into my arms and never left my body. No one wisked them away for tests or procedures, we were left as one and supported as a dyad. I can only imagine that that is God’s design and desire for every mother and baby: to enter the world together in peace and love.
My experience with art is that it is very symbolic. While, no doubt, Jesus was actually breastfed, these images are meant to portray deeper ideas and meanings. (Hence, the latch and positioning is often appalling – or near impossible – when viewed by us lactation professionals!) In my research, I came across some articles from 2008 that indicate that the Catholic church was promoting more images of Mary breastfeeding Jesus so as to promote the true humanity of Jesus. Sometimes Mary and Jesus gaze lovingly at each other. Other times they both stare off into space. Occasionally, she has an expression of annoyance. Been there, done that… I am constantly amazed by the ability of art to portray the deepest and widest range of human emotion. I can feel a connection with each one of these pictures. Breastfeeding is not just a way to feed the baby, it is a way of Mothering. Your breastfeeding relationship can represent all aspects of your parenting: love, fear, concern, annoyance, compromise, struggle, success, failure, anger, growth, nourishment and spirituality.
So, here are my questions to you:
What do these images portray to you? What do you think is the deeper meaning portrayed by the artist? Does this art give you a connection to the humanity of Jesus? Has your birth or breastfeeding experience had a spiritual dimension to it? Do you have a favorite piece of breastfeeding art? Please share!
Many of these images are from http://www.fisheaters.com/marialactans.html.
And some of my personal favorites:Bookmark on del.icio.us