Motherhood and New Birth
Dear Broadview Friends:
‘Tis the season to celebrate motherhood and new birth: both the stirring of tiny new lives in nature, and our always-opportunity to experience the spiritual birth that “opens to the enraptured understanding a much higher and holier conception of the supremacy of Spirit….”1
Recently, friends shared their memories of a unique place in Los Angeles that once specialized in both types of birth. In the 1950s and 60s, the Griffith Park Maternity Home was run by a medical doctor who became a member of The Mother Church. It was staffed exclusively by Christian Science nurses and a Christian Science practitioner was assigned to every case. “Can you just imagine that team of spiritual thinkers?” asks Holly Cunningham, who was born at Griffith Park about seven weeks before her parents expected her.
Arriving prematurely, Holly weighed about three and a half pounds. Her mother was 36 — considered ancient at the time. In a hospital setting back then, it was common for such babies to perish. But at Griffith Park, everyone on Holly’s birth team saw both mother and daughter spiritually, banishing mortal thoughts and medical predictions. Holly was soon sent home weighing a healthy five pounds. “As big as a bag of sugar,” she proudly remembers.
The Griffith Park Maternity Home was founded by a Jewish physician, Dr. Otto Schoenfeld, after his young son became gravely ill, doctors offered no hope, and the boy was fully healed in Christian Science. At that point, Schoenfeld faced a serious dilemma. In Holly’s words: “How could he in all good conscience continue practicing conventional medicine?” Then Schoenfeld realized that Christian Science families needed a birthing facility that met all legal requirements yet offered a healing atmosphere. Soon Christian Science families from L.A., Hawaii, and even other countries began taking advantage of Schoenfeld’s spiritually sensitive care.
After Schoenfeld’s retirement, and as medical regulations became more stringent, the Griffith Park Maternity Home eventually closed its doors. Still, we at Broadview love learning about this innovative model. We’re actually heirs of the Griffith Park tradition: Broadview staff makes an enormous effort to comply with local, state, and federal regulations, while providing spiritually sensitive care for each “toiler tireless for Truth’s new birth.“2 And now that we know about Griffith Park, we’re constantly meeting people who were born there … shout out to Broadview’s Board Director John Bryant and our sister facility LeVerger’s Board President Craig Stephens. Both are actively involved in Christian Science nursing.
Were others reading this today born in Griffith Park? We’d love to hear about your family’s experience. And let’s all take time this month to celebrate the this-moment possibility of experiencing what a poet quoted by Mary Baker Eddy described:
When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world’s new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing.3
Sending the joy of God’s Mother-love,
Marivic Bay Mabanag
1 Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 17.
2 Id. at 386.
3 Id. at 51 (quoting the nineteenth-century Irish poet Thomas Moore).