A Myrrhbearing Story for You

To quote Field of Dreams: “It’s a long story. But it’s a really good story. I’ll tell you on the way.”

I want to tell you a myrrhbearing story.

One year ago, I went into a routine prenatal appointment.

I stretched out my arm for the squeeze of the blood pressure cuff, chatted with my favorite nurse, daydreamed about the bookstore I’d visit later. Maybe I’d buy the baby a book to celebrate another appointment done: a milestone in pregnancy after loss.

Then the nurse narrowed her eyes at the numbers. Hmm, she said. I don’t like that.

My head snapped back to attention. No one likes when medical professionals say I Don’t Like That.

We’ll try again in a few minutes, she decided. Asked the usual questions, noted my vitals, then took my blood pressure again.

Well, she said. Well.

Is it high? I craned my head around to see.

Oh, yes, she said wide-eyed. It’s high.

Do you need to call the midwife? I asked.

You need to go to the hospital, she declared.

Hours later I found myself in a new home for the untold future. Tucked into a hospital gown and thin sheets and plastic pillows propping the baby. He and I were now The Cause for Great Concern.

I had preeclampsia. He was coming prematurely. Every hour mattered.

So began days and weeks of waiting and watching, in and out of the hospital. Spending the month of greatest grief—February, when our twins were born and died—on the same floor where we had grieved four years earlier.

It was too much for anyone to bear.

After many different medications (and terrible side effects), one doctor asked if I’d ever tried acupuncture.

No way, I replied. Not a fan of needles.

It might be worth it, she said. It can help bring blood pressure down. And you need yours DOWN.

Fine. I sighed. Whatever. I hate this.

I hate everything about this.

Enter a breath of fresh air.

She breezed into the room with a satchel slung over her shoulder. She had long hair, kind eyes, and a gentle voice. She pulled out lavender oil, massaged my neck, and rubbed my temples.

After countless cold pokes and prods, my tense body started to soften under her hands.

The acupuncture didn’t hurt as I feared. She explained everything, took all the time in the world to make me feel comfortable. When she started, I closed my eyes and didn’t open them for what felt like hours. As she worked, the whole room warmed and my mind filled with the song of peace.

I didn’t want it to end.

The treatment helped. Doctors approved. Keep going, they said. So we did.

Every day or two, she’d show up at my door with a soft knock and the promise of 20 uninterrupted minutes. I’d lower my bed and close my eyes. She’d work in the quiet. We’d talk.

Eventually stories rose up. I told her about the twins, about the darkest grief my body had held. I told her about the baby who came after them, the sweet and feisty boy who helped heal what could not be healed.

She had been working on the antepartum floor for years. She knew these stories. But she held mine with such tenderness, professional and personal.

She brought me the only peace I had during days of tumult.

Suddenly the baby had to be born. Things were not good for me or for him. Gears shifted from Buying Time to Birthing Now. It was horrid hard work: laboring through the drugged fog of magnesium sulfate, suffering through a painful and slow induction, worrying with each passing hour about what might come next.

At 1:50 am on the second night, I stared at the hospital clock through exhausted haze and decided if no one else was going to midwife this birth, I would do it myself. (This is a story for another day, but grace made it happen.)

The baby was born. He mewed like a kitten. We held him like a treasure.

The day after his birth, the acupuncturist came back again. After such disruption and pain, I was grateful to slip back into our routine and rapport.

As I closed my eyes and she cared for my body, I told her that the next day was our twins’ birthday. And here we were, with a baby in the NICU again. And even though he’d be released soon, I had no idea how to hold everything I’d been asked to carry. It was too much.

She stopped working as the whole story spilled out. This same floor? This same date?

She sat quietly.

I’ll come back tomorrow, she said. I want to bring you something.

The next day dawned. It held all the heaviness and hope I’d feared. Life and death intertwined.

The baby got to come into my room. The flowers arrived from friends who remembered. The doctor and nurse who cared for our twins showed up at my bedside. It was a day soaked in grief and grace.

In the midst of the whirlwind, a tiny gift arrived.

While we were bringing our baby back from the NICU, I returned to find two tiny tea light candles left in my room. With a small bottle of frankincense sitting next to them.

To mark today as sacred, she’d scribbled on a notepad. I’m remembering with you.

You can hold these close whenever you need.

When I think about the Myrrhbearers now, a swirl of faces spring to mind. Midwives and mothers, sisters and strangers, friends and followers—so many of you who have ministered to me in my grief, who have sat with me at the tomb.

But I always think of her, too. The light and myrrh she left me. Treasures from a stranger, from afar.

She helped me carry what I had to bear. The greatest gift we can offer each other.

I only meant to share small news today: that the Myrrhbearers retreat registration is live now for Lent. You can join us here on March 11-14 - and pray together through the whole holy season.

But when I sat down in the dark, the whole story spilled forth—and such stories are part of the legacy of these women and men of faith.

The Myrrhbearers were the ones unafraid to care for Jesus in his darkest hours, even after everyone else left him. The same ones who brought whatever they could bear to the tomb, only to find it empty. The ones who ran with the wonder of resurrection in return.

Stories are meant to be shared. Maybe someone in your life needs you to offer them something of the same in these dark days: a small light and the sacred balm of faith. Maybe you are the one in need of the rugged hope that can look straight into the tomb and say, here, too.

This retreat is for anyone who wants to dive into the stories of passion and death and resurrection, anyone who longs to find deeper peace and stronger connection to God and others on the same journey.

(Drop me a line if you’ve got any questions; I’m here to answer.)

That we get to bear myrrh to one another in this hard life is a holy gift. That we get to receive it from each other is only grace.

I hope you’ll join us. I’ll be praying for you all the way.



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Find my books here: Everyday Sacrament | Grieving Together | Prayers for Pregnancy & Birth | To Bless Our Callings | Living Your Discipleship