If you want to see something beautiful, something inspiring, something hopeful—things I suspect we all might like to see right now—if you want to see something that even might make you weep (in a good way), google “How to Swaddle a Baby 3 Easy Ways,” a short YouTube video produced (I think) by two maternity ward nurses.
All of these swaddles start with a square 40-inch by 40-inch blanket:
First is the “double swaddle.” Fold down one of the blanket corners and place the baby on the blanket with her head on the folded-down corner. Tuck in the baby’s first arm tight with one blanket corner, then bring up the bottom corner and tuck it over her opposite shoulder, and then wrap the still free arm in tight to the body with the remaining corner, tucking all edges in underneath. And then you more or less repeat with a second blanket.
Then, there is the “parent swaddle” (which I suspect is actually called the “dad swaddle,” except they were trying to be sensitive…). Lay the blanket down square and place the baby’s head, not at a corner, but in the middle of one of the edges. Wrap the first arm in tight to the body, and then the other, tucking each edge in underneath her. Finally, bring the bottom edge up, wrap it around, and then tuck those edges underneath. Easy!
And finally, there is the “traditional swaddle.” As with the “double swaddle,” fold down one corner of the blanket and place the baby on the blanket with the baby’s head on the folded-down corner. Wrap one side tight, rolling the baby slightly and tucking the edge behind his back. Then bring up the bottom corner and tuck it behind the opposite shoulder. Take the top half of the remaining corner and wrap the other arm in tight (again rolling him over slightly to tuck the corner behind his back) and then bring the bottom half of that corner and up and tuck it behind his other shoulder.
“How did I get to watching videos about how to swaddle a baby,” you ask? No, I’m not making an announcement about the Duggan-Miller household. (We’re done.) I was looking for wrapping paper for a baby gift, and when the “Baby Wrapping” videos came up… how could I not click on those?
Binding” doesn’t always get the best press, but there are plenty of instances of “binding” that are “good,” that lead to healing and greater life. Binding infants in a swaddle, for example, calms them. Binding dogs in snug-fitting “thunder shirts” similarly calms them during thunder. Doctors bind wounds so that they might heal. Monks’ vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience bind them in order that they may experience greater freedom. Some Jewish men bind phylacteries to their heads and arms to remind them of the Law. Some yoga poses are binds, with arms wrapped and hands clasped in seemingly impossible ways, but which help awaken one to the present moment.
And remember those famous lines attributed to St. Patrick?
I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity…
I bind this day to me forever…
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.
Binding need not be “bad;” indeed, it often leads to greater life.
In today’s lesson from John 11, Lazarus is bound: “his hands and feet [had been] bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.” Jesus makes clear that Lazarus’ binding is not the kind of binding that leads to death, but rather to greater life:
But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
For us right now, it could be that we feel “bound” as we have been told to stay in our homes. I wonder if maybe we could allow our present “binding” to be the kind of binding that leads not to death but to life. I wonder if we can allow this time of quarantine and isolation—as difficult as it may be—to be a time in which our spiritual “bones” have an opportunity to come together, maybe as we spend more regular time in prayer. I wonder if we can allow our time of “binding” to be a time in which we allow God to lay “sinews” on our bones, maybe as we take time in the days and weeks ahead to read the scriptures. I wonder if we can allow our time of “binding” to be a time in which we might allow God’s “breath” to enter in, maybe asking God for a deeply felt knowledge of God’s love for us. For if we let God, God can take our scattered “bones” and gather them together and breathe new life into them such that, in the end, this time of “binding” might lead to greater life. For our Lord is “resurrection and life,” and can use even our present circumstances to lead us out of our tombs such that we, like Lazarus, might be “unbound” and “let go” and become alive in new and surprising ways.