I feel like I need to share how the retreat went, but I am not sure I can find words. And I'm afraid if I start this post will reach the world-record in length, but I will try to keep it as brief as I am capable because I feel to not share something would be dishonoring what the Lord did this weekend.
I think I have finally figured out just what the gift of the Holy Spirit, "awe of the Lord" is.
From the fact that the Responsorial Psalm for Saturday's Daily Mass of the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary was "Hannah's Song" (1 Samuel 2), you know the very scripture that gave us the title to the retreat "The Lord Humbles and Exalts." I had no idea of this "coincidence" until Tuesday of last week. That's right, I had no idea until 3 days! before the start of the retreat. Yea, hello Holy Spirit. (There is so much more behind this story, perhaps a post of it's own...)
To the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire retreat.
To the moment when our Saturday speaker said, "I know this is a silly question, but would everyone who is affected by infertility in the room raise their hands." It was in that moment, sitting in the back of the room with Fr. Dennis that I leaned over and said to him, with tears spilling out of my eyes, "that right there, people seeing they are not alone, just made this all worth it." And I meant it. It made all of the planning, the time, the energy, and even our infertility, for without it, that moment doesn't happen, worth it. A glimpse of our ripple, perhaps?
To the panelists on Sunday (this lady was there) who know their outcome (or at least the beginnings of it) and were willing to "go back to the pain" (as one couple said) and provide hope for all of us. And, while the stories of birthed children, adopted children, and foster-to-adopted children provided hope, without the couple who shared that after 40+ years of marriage and no children there is also immense hope, it would have been incomplete.
To staying up until 4:00am (when I had to be up and ready to go by 7:30) with this lady and three others, and knowing we could have just kept going!
To so much more.
And, since this is my blog ;), I do want to share two experiences I had that were unexpected, and awesome:
1) I was able to be truly present for the entire weekend, in the manner that was appropriate. I was able to "walk the line" between my professional and personal life in a way that truly astounds me it can only be from God. When I needed to be present "professionally" (by making sure everything was set up or keep us on schedule, for example) I was able to do so. But, when I needed to be present "personally" (by allowing something to penetrate my heart or share my story authentically, for example), I was able to. I'm still in awe of this and so grateful for this gift of grace from God. It is undeserved, as all grace is, but so appreciated.
2) When we were working out the logistics for Adoration, it occurred to me that the chapel where we were having adoration and where the monstrance would be was not where the tabernacle and luna were. They weren't even in the same building. Which meant we would need to transfer the Sacred Host (in the luna) from one building to another. In the presence of 4 clergy, when I asked the question "how will we ensure this is done reverently and with respect"? I just assumed they would say that one of them would vest and retrieve the luna and another would walk with a candle or bell or something with the first. But they didn't, they said "Fr. Dennis will vest and retrieve the luna and you (meaning me!) will carry a candle and lead them back." At the end of adoration, this process would be repeated to replace the luna and Sacred Host in the tabernacle. It was one of the most profound things I've ever gotten to do. Especially the return trip b/c it had been daylight when we started, so you could barely see the candle (it was battery operated so it didn't blow out), but going back, it was dark, and knowing that the glow of the candle meant that Jesus was right behind me, being cradled and held high by one of His priests. There are no words.
I am humbled and honored to have been able to use my job for this ministry. If you are reading this and took part in the weekend in any way: said a single prayer, said many prayers, attended, presented, or anything small or big, thank-you! From the very bottom of my heart where there is a gratitude for which words are hollow, thank-you.
I am in awe of the Lord.