May 30 to June 3, I was at a conference on the other side of the country (the west coast), where I was lucky enough to have lunch with Kat and JJ (the Crow's Nest) before my conference started. It is always such a treat to meet bloggers in real life! (If anyone lives in/near St. Louis, I'll be there in July...)
Also, we're moving at the end of June, which, as my husband puts it, was a bit of a surprise to both of us. I spoke a while back about a moving opportunity, to a bigger apartment. Well, the couple renting it out (friends of ours - they live on the top floor, with the apartment in the basement) lowered the price, which made it cheaper for us than our current apartment, plus bigger, with laundry and a patio. We prayed and discussed and then said, "Let's do it."
Moving is a hassle, of course, but it is also nice to have something to pour my energies into, and I'm excited about setting up our new place.
|We'll have a patio! I'm dreaming about what to plant in pots...(these aren't mine, if that's not obvious.)|
And we're going on vacation starting on Sunday! For a whole week. I absolutely can't wait.
|Revisiting Denver, where I lived for a year|
|Rocky Mountain High...Colorado|
A ripple effect, maybe?
Here's the little vignette that goes with my title:
The conference I attended was mainly college-aged and under 30-folks. The details aren't super important, but at one point during the last day, a conversation came up (at a lecture with the whole group in attendence, so 30ish people) that touched on infertility. In a moment of bravado or foolishness, I raised my hand and commented, including sharing that my husband and I currently struggle with infertility. My heart was racing the whole time...I'm usually not that much of a "sharer," but I thought a) it was pertinent to the conversation to make it personal, and b) I'll never see these people again!
The next morning, I rode to the airport with one of the attendees, a deacon who is going to be ordained a priest at the end of June. He thanked me for sharing what I did the day before, about infertility, and said, "That must have been hard for you."
I agreed, and we talked for a while about it. I said (gently, I hope!) that I think pastoral care for couples struggling with infertility is a bit, shall we say...weak in our Church. (Weak could be taken to mean "nonexistent" in some places...) He nodded, and said, "You know, you have a point. I have to admit, I've put my foot in my mouth before. Sometimes it's too easy to think 'Big family - good, Small family - bad.' I see how that could be really hurtful for someone going through infertility."
(First reaction: eeeeeeeek! no kidding! What a horrible, horrible, thing to think!)
Spoken reaction: "Yes, because you know the Church doesn't ask anyone to 'have children,' but to be open to life, and those aren't exactly the same...and if I could tell you how many women I know who want to be mothers of big families but haven't been blessed that way...."
And we talked some more. (He was a really gentle, holy-seeming guy, someone I'm excited to have as a priest.)
So, the ripple effect. I hope and pray that our little conversation, sparked by my sharing the day before, means that this particular priest never, ever implies to anyone anymore, "Big family - good; small family -bad" or anything like that. That he keeps a memory of me as an example of Catholics going through infertility when he's doing ministry, or when he's in a parish and there's that one family who doesn't have kids. I hope our conversation affects the way he talks and thinks about childbearing, about how it's not as easy as saying, "I reject contraception" to get a houseful of kids. And so on.
I hope somewhere down the road this priest blesses an infertile couple with his kindness and pastoral care. That would make the vulnerability of sharing about such a difficult, personal struggle totally worth it.