30 April 2016

Bathsheba: O Child

2. Samuel 11:1-12:25

It cannot be true.
It cannot be real.
This is the end
of everything.
Gone my plans,
gone my future,
gone my marriage,
gone my life.

O child,
I wish I could accept you,
I wish I could love you
as a mother should,
not feel this horror
at your presence in me.
O child,
I wish I could rejoice
as a mother would
if things were as they should
- but they are not.

Sick with fear
as my future slips away,
as my life slowly crumbles
before my eyes,
as another blow
follows the one already dealt.

Was it not enough
to be taken by force
by a man I could not fight?
Was it not enough
to bear the pain and misery?
Must I now also bear his child
and the penalty of death
for a crime I never wanted to commit?

O child,
I wish I could give you
a better home,
a loving family,
complete, not torn,
not ruined by greed, by lust, by rape.
O child,
I wish I could bring you
into a better world
where things are as they should
- but they are not.

Soon they will see.
Soon they will know.
What should be joy
will be a brandmark of shame,
and I will hear derision
in place of congratulation.

And you,
o child,
will pay the price;
the brunt of it all
will fall upon you:
helpless and small,
pure and innocent,
sacrifice to another's sin
- and here I am,
sick with fear,
unable to save you,
unable to save myself.

O child,
I wish I could love you,
I wish I could give you
the welcome I should.
I bear you in fear, in sorrow and shame,
wishing you had never been.


[29. April 2016]

I tried to put myself into Bathsheba's head a bit, imagining what it might have been like for her when she realised she was expecting David's baby. Adultery was punishable by death - and in any case, an unplanned pregnancy at the wrong moment can have huge consequences. The hardest probably being for the child, coming into the world weak and helpless. Even though Bathsheba is often portrayed as a seductress, it is very likely that she had little say in the matter of David wanting to sleep with her. Various biblical scholars suspect what happened there was rape. Which adds another burden to Bathsheba and to her child.

I have been thinking: the reactions to a pregnancy can be vastly different, depending on whether it's a "wanted" pregnancy in "ordered" conditions ("normal" family), or an unexpected, unplanned pregnancy. Especially in those days, Bathsheba's pregnancy would have been a cause of shame and a reason to condemn her to death for adultery. Why is that? The same thing - a new life - can be a reason for joy, a celebrated event, or a source of shame and derision which in some circles can even lead to being ostracised and looked down upon. Isn't that sad?!

I hope we as a church don't make this difference between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" pregnancies in such a way that affected women feel shamed, threatened and looked down upon... because wouldn't that just make it harder for them to accept and love their unborn child? Expecting a child should be something wonderful, not something to be afraid of.
(So on another note: if we want there to be less abortions happening, maybe instead of staging protests we should be more accepting towards such mothers?)

Picture: sculpture by Danny Osborne.

No comments:

Post a Comment