In the past 10 days, ten of our 18 pregnant goats have given birth to a total of 22 amazing creatures (all of which I love insanely already!) During kidding season, I spend a lot of time staring at the live barn cam monitor where it sits perched beside my bed each night. Come morning I carry it down to the kitchen table and have coffee while watching goats who are not quite ready to become mamas chew their cud and scratch against the stall walls.
At school as I teach senior English, the live barn feed is on in the background of whatever we are doing and we laugh as the goats call loudly back and forth with their kids from previous years who are in neighboring kidding stalls waiting for their own babies. “Is it time yet?” my students will ask me. “Not yet,” I tell them trying to wrestle minds away from the barn half an hour away and back into the classroom where we all sit pretending it is not spring and 26 school days of school from graduation.
You might imagine that the highlight of this spring ritual is the moment the kids arrive wet and lovely and ready to leap into the day (or night) and yes, the deliveries are miraculous every single time, but my favorite moment is watching a doe become absolutely still in the minutes or hours before delivery. It happens to all of them at different times, but all of them seem to, at one point in early labor, intentionally stop to soak up the moment of…almost.
After a day of calling out, she will become silent, stand tall, breathe deeply, audibly. She will stare into the light coming through barn windows illuminating dust and in them I imagine she sees the beauty of NOW with the utmost clarity. She is not rushing forward towards the 1-4 kids to come, she is not worried about the pain of labor, or if her milk will come in. She is beautifully, majestically, simply -- present.
A pregnant pause.
I watch it again and again with avid curiosity as if by studying this space carved between seconds, the precious moments right before change, I might learn how to breathe more deeply into now, ruminate on all the power we each have in us even on the cusp of the most challenging events, and somehow find more courage to genuinely savor the moments before things change so that I can stretch out to fill the space before me with inner calm.
It looks easy when my goat girls do it. It looks essential even. And I wonder what my senior English students and I might miss if we keep rushing forward and don’t take more time to honor the sacred power of transitions, both sweet and sorrowful.