|Photo by zieak|
I recently read a comment from Claire in Tasmania that made a deep impression on me. In reference to another mom bringing up the issue of modesty, she answered, "I've decided it's our ministry to nurse in church because
a) for those who 'don't know where to look' (which someone apparently said to the minister's wife) - it's a life skill they need to learn, and where better to learn it?
b) for everyone who reads passages in the Bible written by people who assume knowledge of breastfeeding ("like newborn babes crave pure spiritual milk"), there is so much more to the imagery there than just nutrition, yk? Peter's imagining that great big grin as your hungry baby sees that he's about to get what he wants, and the responsiveness of the relationship, and the bonding and the contented, milk-drunk smile at the end... If we don't provide that subconscious imagery, who will?"
Wow. It is only in the last few generations that so many people, male and female, have grown up *without* all of that beautiful imagery to form part of our understanding. The way a newborn, whether asleep or awake, will orient herself toward the breast. The peacefulness of a babe who has been satisfied. The frequency with which they want more (no place for scheduling here: "It has only been two hours since you read several Psalms. You have to wait another hour."). Gazing into each others' eyes, breathing in each others' scent. The trust and joy in relationship.
I think of passages like Isaiah 66:11-13 (New International Version)
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance."
12 For this is what the LORD says:
"I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."
Verses like these have become so much richer to me since I've nursed my own children, seen their delight, held them in my arms, and comforted them. I imagine that this was the norm when the Bible was written, yet today breastfeeding has become something to do while hidden away in a bathroom stall, or under elaborate covers and blankets. Many people are unaware of the expressions and habits that nursing moms take for granted.
So, when you are out with your baby and she gets hungry, nurse her wherever you are. If you don't have nurslings of your own, encourage the moms around you with a smile and a kind word. You will be "doing unto the least of these" what Jesus would do, and may even discover some spiritual riches that you hadn't noticed before.