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Picturing a World

Midwives on Christmas

In the 2nd C, when the ox and the ass entered Christian nativity lore, so did a pair of midwives for the Virgin Mary. I learned about them a decade ago when I first read A Book of Carols (1966) edited by Eleanor Sayre and illustrated with artwork from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. A note to an engraving says that until the 15th century, the midwives were frequently shown performing various tasks but were "not tolerated" by the church thereafter. What a motif for feminist meditations! (NB: the ox and ass got to stay.) Or for new carols, poems, or seasonal fiction. In my case, so far, it has only yielded a portfolio of images, but maybe, maybe, someday something more….

In any case, for all of us in this dark world, let Christmas be a day to rejoice in new beginnings, inspiration, and appreciation for the family, friends, and animal companions who are midwives to our imaginations.

Merry Christmas!
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