"Love is always a risk, beginning with that first blood sacrifice: when a woman consents to nurture a child with her body and allow it to be torn open for the sake of new life: that's the miracle that saves the world. That's where fragile hope is found."
While living and working in one of the world's most impoverished countries, teacher, doula, and young mother Rachel Marie Stone unexpectedly caught a baby without wearing gloves, drenching her bare hands with HIV-positive blood. Already worried about her health and family and whether her service was of any use, Stone grappled anew with realities of human suffering, global justice, and maternal health.
In these profound reflections on the mysteries of life and death, Stone unpacks how childbirth reveals our anxieties, our physicality, our mortality. All who are born or give birth will someday die. Yet even in the midst of our fears and doubts, birth is a profoundly hopeful act of faith, as new life is brought into a hurting world that groans for redemption. God becomes present to us as a mother who consents to the risk of love and ultimately lets us make our own way in the world, as every good mother must do.
"I love this book. You needn't have given birth to love it. Maybe you don't even have to be curious about God or life as a human being to love it―the prose is that strong and compelling that perhaps even the God-and-human-uncurious might love it. My copy is going on my read-once-a-year shelf, after Jane Smiley and before Robert Penn Warren." (Lauren F. Winner, associate professor at Duke Divinity School, author of Wearing God)
"Rachel Stone writes with power in this captivating reflection on the legacies of pain, procreation, and promise that echo through women’s (reproductive, emotional, and familial) lives. Part memoir, part travelogue, part time travel, Birthing Hope kept me glued to its pages. Highly recommend!" (Jennifer Grant, author of Love You More, Wholehearted Living, and Maybe God Is Like That Too)
"Every woman who gives birth knows that it is a profoundly spiritual experience. Something in us changes as our bodies bring life into the world. Rachel Marie Stone puts words around the ways the birthing process pulls women into the depths of pain, but also identity, fear, mercy, and even death. In doing so, she offers a clear look at the physical, emotional, and mystical messiness of birth." (Carla Barnhill, author of The Myth of the Perfect Mother, former editor of Christian Parenting Today)
Rachel Marie Stone teaches English at the Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, New York. Her writing about food, faith, justice, public health, and maternal health has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, Books and Culture, Sojourners, In Touch magazine, Religion News Service, Patheos, and more. Her books include the revised More-with-Less cookbook, Telling God's Story, and Eat With Joy, which won a Christianity TodayBook Award and was named by a Religion News Service columnist as one of the year's ten most intriguing titles in religion. She and her husband, Tim, have two sons.