I was having lunch with Fr. D yesterday, our intent was to "debrief" about the retreat and to figure out what we needed to do differently or better next time. And we found ourselves with not a whole lot. Yes there are some minor things, but overall, there isn't much. Truly, the retreat exceeded all of our expectations, and the expectations of everyone who has shared feedback with us. (If you're reading this, were there, and feel differently, PLEASE email me.)
My intent is not to write forever about the retreat, but part of our conversation was Fr. D asking if I was journaling, writing down my experiences and I realized I was, but after some additional reflection, I realize I wasn't. I have a few unfinished posts with notes scribbled to myself. I have my last post. But I haven't really written much out of fear of being boastful or prideful. And yet, this is so much a part of my story. So much a part of my road that to not write about it here seems dishonest. So, it is with caution I proceed.
As I continue to reflect, it is clear to me that the Holy Spirit was present, and I'm still pondering and praying over just why it is God has chosen me to do this. I don't have the answer to that question. It seems that question seems to be more of an answer to the other question of "why infertility?" And then I find myself asking: why do I get my answer? Ah, the life of an IF gal, always asking "why?".
I do know that a week and a half ago, it was like I was seeing God. It was like He was sitting in the room with the attendees. Crying with them. Laughing with them. Gently touching their shoulders and telling them "it will be OK." As if He stood in the room saying "My beautiful daughters and sons, I love you and I will never leave you." (I write this in this tone because it was in the moments that I was in "work" or "serve others" mode that I most clearly saw and felt the Holy Spirit.)
There was hope, where there hadn't been hope for a long time.
There was peace, where peace was a distant memory.
There was laughter, where mostly tears had taken up residence.
There were tears, that healed instead of hurt.
To have been called to this. To have been led to this retreat. And to have seen it play out.
There are two words I am wearing out: humbled and grateful.
And while I wish I knew "why me," even more so I wish I knew how to express my gratitude for this community that has given me hope and strength when I didn't think either were possible ever again. The only way I can think that might even begin is to say that this retreat, it is all a part of your ripples. Without all of you, without the prayers, the friendships, the guidance, all of it, this retreat never happens. So, dear friends, please know that it was a fruit of your infertility as much as it was of mine.
And while I know we'd all rather have babies than retreats, I hope that somehow, someway, someday, you remember that your suffering matters. That your pain is not for nothing. That your marriages, your fully-lived sacraments bear fruit. That you have given life to the world. That you have given life to me.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: The husband and wife, because of their baptismal and matrimonial vocations themselves, are always called to work together with God in creating a new humanity.
You are doing just that my dear friends. You are creating a new humanity through your tears, your stories and your witness.