Motherhood and Piglets
I often wonder if I have lived in Peru too long because some of the rarest, simplest things fill my heart and make Christ’s presence known in such a real way to me. Perhaps it is not a bad thing, but I ask this question after spending the day yesterday with my dear friend Maritza.
We had a wonderful day together, and it got even better right as my son and I were about to leave. See, one of the pigs that we bought Maritza a few years back, was about to give birth to her fourth set of baby piglets. We had been keeping an eye on her off and on during our visit and decided to check on her once again before heading out.
When we arrived at her corral, we saw that the pig, named Negra, had already given birth to one baby, but it had not survived. Maritza tried to save it, and she was in tears that the baby piglet was dead. But her tears turned to joy a few minutes later because then came the rest of the piglets. One, two, three – I was amazed at how quickly they were coming, and Maritza so lovingly took each one. She cleaned them and returned them to their mother so they could eat. Negra gave birth to a total of 12 baby piglets!
Her body was so perfectly designed and equipped for the job of motherhood. Maybe it is weird to say, but watching Negra give birth and Maritza take such good care of her and her piglets made my heart full.
We all know that pigs have a bad reputation and oftentimes are not the most desirable animal. Just the same, I find that unwed mothers are thought of in the same manner. Throughout the Bible, we are given many symbols of a pig. The symbol of uncleanliness, (Leviticus 11:7), as symbols of destruction and punishment, (Psalm 80:13), and they are even used as a symbol of rejected worship, sacrifice (Isaiah 66:3), and foolishness (Proverbs 11:22).
Luke even mentions this in the Prodigal Son wherein he writes, “So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs” (Luke 15:15).
And who can forget the story of Jesus casting the demons out of the two men and into the herd of pigs found in Matthew 8:28-34?! “He said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.”
As you can see, we can find many associations in the Bible where pigs are not mentioned in a positive light. A quick search on the internet about pigs and motherhood will give you the sight of a grim world we live in that believes that cruelty to pigs is allowed and gives us a snapshot of how pigs are beneath other animals.
With that said, I find here in Peru and from my personal experience in the USA as a single mother, that more often than not, unwed mothers are treated just as harshly. Outcast, kept at a distance, undeserving, not equal to, shunned from church communities because their marriage failed, left to take all the blame, abandoned, and stripped of all dignity. The list goes on.
However, on this day, I could not help but notice my dear friend Maritza taking such gentle care of Negra and her piglets. Maritza made sure her children were by her side, and she carefully explained and taught them how to care for each piglet upon their arrival into this world.
I also took in the fact that this unwed mother finds self-worth and dignity in caring for all of her pigs and piglets. This so-called filthy, unclean animal allows her to provide for her family.
Maritza, an outcast, many would say, treats this unclean pig with the utmost respect and love.
What I feel many people forget about pigs and unwed mothers is the fact that both are creations made by God. Yesterday I was delighted at what the Lord had to show me in Maritza and Negra: two loving mothers both deserving of respect, love, and compassion. Both ready and willing to serve Jesus in the way only they can fulfill here on earth.
May our hearts be moved to compassion and love for all the unwed single mothers who are hidden in the shadows of the outcasted, abandoned, and forgotten and who so bravely carry their crosses daily in hopes to one day hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
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