I have often thought that I am just not really enamoured of the name “doula”, for the service I provide. I am also not too crazy about being named after the top “servant in the household”, as doula is explained to describe. Yes, I do serve and support my clients, but I believe a doula’s role is so much more than either the terms “doula”, or “servant” represent. In my mission statement I have likened the role of a doula to that of the Native American Faitherkeeper.
“In the Native American tradition, one member of the tribe assumes the role of “Faithkeeper”. This person’s role is to remain at peace, centered in spiritual vision, enlightenment, and understanding, no matter what events befall the tribe. Even if everyone else in the tribe slips into pain, fear, or dissention, the Faithkeeper is the one person the tribe can rely on as a lifeline to the Presence.”
Yet, even this, does not quite give voice to the entirety of the doulas covenant as she serves an expectant mother and father.
I like the idea of a Birth Guardian. Guardians have played important roles in all cultures throughout time, walking alongside, and bearing witness to various milestones upon life’s path. A guardian holds a sacred space, inviting and protecting ritual and rites of passage, as a person makes the transition from one state or status into another. The welcoming of a new life, a Baptism or dedication to the Divine, a boy growing into manhood, a girl becoming a woman, a first kiss, an initiation into the gifts of a shared and sacrosanct sexuality, a union of souls in marriage, the culmination and completion of an education, the nascent rise from parent to grandparent, or an elder making a final journey and walking on. A guardian stands as a bridge between the falling away of the old self, and the arising of the new. It is she who holds the ends of the sacred cord, which she knits carefully together into a crown of new creation, and places it upon the victorious heads of those who have walked through the transmuting fires of separation, growth, falling away, and the consummation of passage into new form and identity.
A guardian stands as one who bears witness to the holiness and consecration of a new, hard won, and thoroughly merited form. Whether walking actively alongside, or stepping back into ever watchful and listening shadow, a guardian brings and embodies an unconditional presence of encouragement, respect, gentleness, reverence, and love. She is as a calm oasis who, with awe and celebration, enters wholeheartedly into the miracle with you. She helps to maintain a sacred gathering of souls who are united toward welcoming a precious new creation without judgment or agenda, preserving and protecting an opening and a welcome for whatever needs to enter, unfold, or manifest.
A Birth Guardian enters a normal hospital labor and delivery room with her birth client, and sets about transforming it into a temple which upholds, grounds, and supports the expectant couple. Raising the banner of her loving intention high, the guardian seeks to create a sacred container for their dreams, hopes, wishes, desires, fears, doubts, questions, growth, joys, celebration, reverent welcome, and love.
The guardian knows that into this temple then, enters a Precious Vessel, filled with the fruit of love, a life longing for the light, and all the strength, courage, wisdom, and surrender that can be brought to bear on this long awaited day. Throughout the ensuing hours, as wave upon all encompassing wave, roll, surge, and crash across and through this Motherly Vessel, the old is washed away and the new emerges. If we can but remember to watch her with loving eyes, we will gaze, transfixed before she who stands with one foot in a previously inhabited world of singleness and selfhood, and the other stepping into her future world of noble, benevolent, and generously selfless care of the life of another. The Birth Guardian is honored and blessed to bear witness, encourage, serve, support, and love this precious woman through the sacredness of maternal transfiguration. And the most amazing of gifts is then suddenly ours, as new life comes bursting triumphantly forth, and we see before us a wholly new, beauteous, and knowing creation , A Mother, and oh Holy of Holies, a precious, new babe held gratefully in her loving arms.
If all life could be welcomed within such a sacred temple, with a loving Birth Guardian standing watch, then surely the One birth would come anew with each babe’s arrival, and the promise of peace they bring into the world once more, would touch and transform us all. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.