for as long as i can remember, Georg Friedrich Händel's oratorio Messiah has been part of my audio landscape, especially during the winter holidays. although it was played occasionally throughout the year, Thanksgiving was the traditional First Playing of Messiah, which quickly became An Anticipated Event; it was then on semi-constant rotation through the New Year. my parents had a gorgeous box set on vinyl; as a small person i would watch my father carefully stack the shiny black discs on the record player, set the arm...and then the needle would drop. that marvelous hssssssshpop (those of you who are old (or young) enough to know what well-loved vinyl sounds like know what i mean) would begin, and then the first delicious notes of the Overture would crackle out of the speakers. i would curl up in a patch of sunlight on the living room carpet (i grew up in the tropics; it was always sunny year-round) with the big black bound box with a picture on the front of an intricately carved bas-relief ivory cross depicting Jesus' life. i would read along with the libretto, or study the dramatic faces of the ivory figures, and let the music soak into my bones along with the tropical sunlight. it should be no surprise then, that when i knew Tummymuffin IV was old enough to be able to hear well, the first music i played for him was the Messiah, through an old pair of headphones i'd cut apart to lay flat on my belly.
a few days ago, i was generously invited to attend a live performance of the full oratorio. as the first notes soared out of the orchestra, the fancy Southern California concert hall balcony disappeared and i was transported back to a sunny patch of worn carpet in Okinawa. the music and sunlight stored deep in my body met the lush notes floating up to me and became an embrace. and in that crossing of time and space, there was a moment of understanding and peace with my body: you may take joy in her again. you may trust her again. you MUST trust her again.
there has been so much broken trust with my body in the losing of three children and the struggle to become pregnant, and there has been so much work in trying to rebuild it. several weeks ago Thomas and i went to a wedding, and i wore a dress that was stretchy enough to accommodate The Belly and still be comfortable. i was astonished to find how strong and beautiful i felt in that dress, which also happened to show every new glorious curve and hide nothing. there was a bit of a learning curve in dancing with my husband at the reception; i was initially clumsy and off-balance, but we adjusted, and it was lovely to spin around the dance floor in his arms and feel glamorous in my total unwieldiness. i realized that night that Tummymuffin IV has no problem trusting this body -- his mummytiffin -- and i also realized how far i'd come in the rebuilding work if i could feel this way again.
back in the concert hall, as the Chorus "For unto us a Child is born" was sung, Tummymuffin IV started to dance. by the time we'd reached the Aria "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion," TM4 was in full happy-kicky mode; even after intermission he kept bouncing around, seemingly as contentedly happy as me. and when the final glorious notes of the multilayered Amens of the Chorus "Worthy is the Lamb" faded, i'm not certain who was the listener anymore -- the innocent, bespectacled girl curled up in the island sun in front of the record player, or the woman in the balcony with the secret smile, hands pressed against her dancing belly.