The Modern Village Welcomes a Baby

Posted on 01 February 2010

Last week I was part of a cyber-village candle light vigil.  The vigil was in honor of my friends Shawn and Leyla, specifically timed with Leyla going into labor.  At their baby shower celebration in November, we’d handed candles to guests as they departed, asking them to keep the candle until they received word (by me, via email) that the baby was coming.  At that point, they were to light the candle, send their love and prayers, and wait for good news.  Leyla and Shawn chose not to find out the sex of their baby ahead of time, and their baby was already affectionately named Baby Bear within the village.

On Friday, Leyla went into labor.  On Saturday I got word to email the list of Leyla and Shawn’s 73 close family and friends, and out went the message:  Baby Bear is coming.  Please light your candles!  Almost immediately, excited responses flooded in from the community:   “Sam and I are holding space with candles lit and our hearts open to the new presence arriving.”   “Know it is happening now, all is perfect and good. Welcome BB to bring joy and love into a waiting world.” And more…

Sunday morning the responses intensified: “Candle’s been burning strong through the night…SO much LOVE to Shawn, Leyla and Bear moving through this sacred experience.”  “Lots of prayers for our girl Leyla! You are strong and going to get through this with grace!  We are right here with you…candles burning! Breathe!”

And Monday morning they were really flooding in: At this point I’m starting to think they really are having a bear!  Sending out a totally awesome cosmic pic-a-nic basket of love!  Let’s go Team Bear!” “Sending lots of love……it’s good to be a part of this wonderful energy!” “The sun is rising and the candle is still burning.  Africa is waiting.”

Meanwhile, I fielded calls from friends who needed more than an email connection, I talked to Leyla’s mom in Philadelphia several times, comparing notes on the little info we knew, and every few hours, I talked with Leigh, a friend I’d bonded with as we planned the baby shower together a few months ago.  Every once in a while Leigh or her husband would get a text update from Shawn and I’d post the new news to the village.  Like everyone else, I kept a candle burning and stayed close to the computer and the phone, in deep awe of Leyla’s endurance and the process of natural birth itself.

When news came finally on Monday afternoon, that Baby Bear had arrived – a perfect beautiful baby boy, the cyber village celebrated together.  A song about Baby Bear posted to the list from an excited friend in New York, ideas about bringing meals to the new family flew about from local friends,and feelings of love and connection flowed through all the messages.

The first night of this candle light party, I dreamt that I was at an event for the couple, and that I was scurrying around between the guests trying to get the candles lit.  Suddenly, all the candles flared with light and I breathed a big sigh of relief.  When I woke up in the morning, remembering the dream I had to laugh. As if I could light all those candles myself?  Nope, it takes a village and the village was there.

We’ve all heard the phrase that it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case, a village helped in spirit to support the new parents in birthing one.  What’s particularly beautiful to me is that time and location were irrelevant.  Friends in Africa, Amsterdam and through the U.S. were connected in spirit – taking their time to light a candle, to share in the email conversation, to bring Leyla, Shawn and Baby Bear into their awareness with loving thoughts and intentions.  That’s beautiful!  That’s perhaps how things might have been in a true village experience and now, in our modern, urban experience, we can still create that kind of community – and we get to be creative in how we do that.

Here’s what I know.  It’s easy to avoid community.  And, it’s easy to create community.  It’s a choice.  Shawn and Leyla aren’t particularly unusual in how many people they know.  They are perhaps unusual in how they have let the people in their lives be a part of their lives.  And, while they received the gift of love and support from their community, by allowing the community to share in their lives, they gifted us.

Welcome Baby Bear Isaiah!  Blessings on you!  You have a village of aunts and uncles who already love you.  Welcome to parenthood, Leyla and Shawn!  Blessings on you!  You have a community ready to support you as you raise your son.


Wouldn’t you know, there’s a handy website to organize friends who wanted to bring meals to new parents.   It’s and lets you create a meal registry — with a calendar, contact info, and a place to list what is being brought so not everyone brings the same casserole.  A great tool to use within your village!

3 comments to The Modern Village Welcomes a Baby

  • Shauna says:

    Wow Jessica! So beautifully written! And man, Shawn and Leyla just inspire me……. they continue to reveal to me what’s possible for my life. Thanks for sharing.

  • Susan says:

    Jessica, this is beautiful, you are an amazing writer. Keep them coming! I hope you are dreaming of writing a book at some point. All the best to Leyla, Shawn, and BB.

  • Shannon says:

    Love Love Love this story and this post! What a wonderful way to bring new life into the world. Thanks for the way you wrote about it and the way you were part of the community!

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