Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sorrow Wide and Deep

I've been consistently silent about what I'm ready to share today. It's kind of ironic that this blog, this year of sharing thoughts and experiences on the web, has been called the Heart of Things, and yet all the while something at the very heart of our life has been hushed over. It's a source of suffering that I think, in retrospect, has fueled all of these reflections on God, life and everything in between.

This weekend, I was reading in Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, about God's great kenosis, or self-emptying. The Pope talks about how God has been pouring Himself out in super-abundance for us since the beginning, even before Jesus. Our God Who is Love has always made this move, this condescension; to get down to our level, to speak our language, to give us His hand as a Father coming down to caress his child's face. All of this simply so that we could know and love Him, see Him for Who He is.

Pope Benedict said that each descent of God (into the Garden of Eden at the breezy time of the day, the Burning Bush before Moses, the mouths of the prophets, and especially and definitively in Jesus Himself) was a movement that left God.... vulnerable.

By giving us His Name, there was the risk of us misusing it. By becoming man there was the risk of men ignoring Him. By becoming our very food in the Eucharist, there was the risk that we would rather taste something else, some fruit that might even be poison for us. But in all of this, God took the risk anyway; He became little so that we might become big in the best sense of the word.

In the lonely hollow of our hearts, there is an infinite amount of space. It's here where Love seeks to find a home. So each of us has this capacity, this dwelling place for love. Many of us have this space occupied and expanded by the love of friends, then a spouse, and finally in the blessing of children. Entering into each of these loves makes us vulnerable. We have to take a leap of faith and trust that love will be returned, or that we in turn will give real love, give of ourselves.

Four years ago, my wife and I took that leap into marriage. It's elated and expanded our hearts, and I believe we are bigger and better for the love we've found in each other. But in these years, a cross has come and set itself up, looming right in the very center of our life together. It's the cross of infertility.

Now if the cross means contradiction, than I can't think of a more custom fit cross than this one. Rebecca has dreamed of motherhood since she was seven years old. I mourn the loss of little ones who will have her eyes, my height, her heart, my humor (?)... We long for children. When we were first married, we volunteered to live as house parents at a wonderful home for crisis pregnancies. My wife, me, and up to twelve pregnant ladies! It was a treasure to watch the little lives grow, and the women who might have chosen abortion found a safe haven where they could fall in love with their squirming little bundles of joy. But in the midst of this nearly two year mission, we discovered we were incapable of having a baby ourselves. To add to this irony, Rebecca was working during the day with pregnant women in a PPD program.

It seems, after surgeries, doctors, consultations and counselors, that having our own children would be nothing short of a miracle (and we're still counting on Pope John Paul II for that one). Since we've moved on from Mother's Home, we've continued seeing doctors and seeking answers on the quest to have a family. We've met with the adoption branch of Catholic Social Services, we've sought advice from our priest friends, Catholic bioethicists, physicians, etc. It's been a real emotional roller coaster, and there's so much more to share.

For now, I just wanted to open this door that I've been keeping neatly shut. This is my little kenosis. It's not easy sharing this cross. It glares up at us from the over 19 cribs of friends who've just had babies, and from the 9 new sets of beautiful eyes of nieces and nephews just born in the last four years in our own families. But it's time to open the wound. I'm not sure where this will go, but I will from time to time share more of our story.

In the words of a famous Catholic blogger and author, Amy Welborn, whose blog is called "Open Book," a blog is just that, an open book for others to read and share thoughts on. I think it makes us more vulnerable, but that also makes it the front porch to communion.

A new tag on my blog site listed as "infertility" and "The Struggle" will be the quickest way to find more of our sharing on this. Everyone has their cross. I ask for your prayers that we get the grace to keep carrying ours, and we'll pray for your daily walk as well. God is good and God is with us all. This I know!

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