Humans of Ancient Faith is a new series of mini-interviews designed to introduce you to the many wonderful human beings who make this ministry possible. We asked the same 5 questions in each interview, and let the interviewee choose a sixth question. Today, we’re talking with author Laura Jansson.
If you were named for your defining characteristic, what word or phrase would be your name?
It would have to be the Greek name Christodoula, which means “the handmaid of God.” It’s the phrase with which the priest serves us the Holy Mysteries, and I believe I am most truly myself when I stand before God as I do before the chalice. I do try to serve God as a handmaid in all I do. But there’s another aspect of the name. As well as my writing and mothering, I work as a doula, a professional childbirth companion, which is truly the ministry of a servant. When I attend a birth, and see a woman in her full vulnerability working to bring a new child into the world, I’m very aware that whatever I do to “the least of these,” I do for Christ.
What is your earliest specifically Orthodox memory?
In my early 20s, my boyfriend (now my husband) had an interest in Orthodoxy, so my father took us both to a monastery church, located in the middle of a graveyard in southern England. We came unannounced on a weekday afternoon, but there were candles lit in the dim interior, and a priest was there willing to speak with us. I remember feeling self-conscious in the face of his sobriety, reverence and quietude.
What is your favorite story about your patron saint?
I am Laura Elisabeth, for the mother of St. John the Forerunner, and my favorite story about her is how she received Christ joyfully into her home and her heart even while he was still veiled in His mother’s womb. This is the story from the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, when the pregnant Theotokos came to stay with her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, and the latter felt her unborn baby leap for joy inside her at the presence of Christ. Immediately Elizabeth recognised Jesus as God, and Mary as “the mother of my God.” It’s Righteous Elizabeth’s words we use when we sing, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
What’s the title of a conference which Ancient Faith has not yet hosted that you would absolutely attend?
I’d like to attend (as the creator/facilitator!) a retreat for expectant parents, to help them learn about pregnancy and birth, build their metaphorical “village,” and prepare to enter parenthood feeling spiritually ready.
What’s a book or movie you’d highly recommend? What do you like about it?
I love The Fiddler on the Roof and quote it far too often, usually when I’m making fun of myself. “We suffer. We suffer in silence.” “Another blessing!” “Money is the world’s curse. May the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!” “What have you got against my horse? Really, sometimes I think, when things are too quiet up there, you say to yourself, ‘Let’s see. What kind of mischief can I play on my friend, Tevye?'” “May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us.” There seems to be a Tevye quotation for every one of life’s sticky situations.
How do you like your eggs?
Poached, with salt and pepper. And preferably from one of our family’s backyard chickens, Pippin, Margaret, Helen and Josephine.
About Laura S. Jansson
Laura is an Orthodox Christian doula, childbirth educator, and mother living and writing at the intersection of birth and faith. She earned her Masters degree in Theology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, UK, and has also resided in the USA, Serbia, Germany, and Fiji. Since 2005 she has guided scores of expectant mothers on the path to parenthood, witnessing with wonder as bellies and souls grow along the way.
Laura is the author of Fertile Ground: A Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy, a guidebook to the spiritual terrain of pregnancy, with weekly reflections for the journey. She is a contributor to Seven Holy Women: Conversations with Saints and Friends and moderates a FB group called “For Joy: Orthodox Christian Pregnancy Support” which welcomes new members. Find out more about her work at www.godsib.net.