Friday, May 23, 2014

God's Nursing Breasts

The memorial service ended. I unplugged my heart to let the tears roll down my face.

For a few minutes I stood nestled next to the tissue box in the pastor’s study. Reluctantly I stepped into the fellowship of a bereaved community of friends and family and patients and fellow employees.

Barbara Lawson Boston, nurse practitioner, lactation consultant, labor and delivery nurse extraordinaire, friend, colleague, teacher and mentor left this world and our world far too soon. She was a vibrant 66-year-old mother and wife, sister and daughter.

The fellowship hall was abuzz with talk about Barbara’s joyful disposition and her defiant determination to make this world a better place.

I saw a young colleague who had worked at the Center for Integrative Medicine with Barbara and me.

"When did you last see Barbara?" I asked.

"Well," he responded. "Not so recently, but Barbara and I talked on the phone at length after my daughter was born. My wife was having difficulty nursing. I asked for her advice, not knowing that Barbara’s professional resume included lactation consultation. She diagnosed the issue and offered her friend Rachel as someone who provided breast milk for mothers who needed nutritional support while their own supply was being enhanced."

"And," he added, "this same Rachel was also providing breast milk for Barbara in the hope that it would vitalize her during her cancer treatments."

El Shaddai . . . God . . . The One of the Breast*

Barbara Lawson Boston, nurse of God, nurturer and nourisher: May the Holy One of Compassion, The One of the Breast, nurse and supply you with eternal peace.

Shabbat shalom,

* It is thought that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet Shaddai with the Hebrew shad meaning "breast" -- giving the meaning "the One of the Breast," as Asherah in Ugarit is "the One of the Womb."

A similar theory proposes that the name Shaddai is connected to shadayim, the Hebrew word for "breasts." It may thus be connected to the notion of God's gifts of fertility to the human race.

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