I got a half dozen folk to go on a lovely hike on the Billy Goat Trail at the C&O National Historic Park Sunday. Isn't it amazing that such a stupendously beautiful place is within spitting distance of the District proper? Blue skies would have made for prettier pictures, but the weather was perfect - the rain held off, and it was just cool enough to be comfortable. Then we went to a super-cute place in Glen Echo (there's this whole complex where apparently they do dancing of all kinds - everyone who had been agreed it was a great date destination) for a bite to eat - and a long (and highly entertaining) discussion of the various defeciencies in the DC Catholic dating scene!
I really wanted to go to Mass earlier in the day, but just didn't get my act together fast enough to be on time. But the evening service was fantastic, with an amazing homily.
I know I vacillate on how I'm going to deal with my childlessness all the time. In the same week I do pious, rebellious, agnostic, philosophical, bitter, and schizophrenic combinations thereof. It probably gets a little exhausting to read. So I've grown suspicious of my own more peaceful or noble resolutions about how I'm going to cope - because a firm purpose of amendment doesn't end up meaning much when I have no idea of how to implement it, and it dissipates into the air the next time something makes me angry or sad (usually, immediately).
So for what little it may be worth, I was thinking a lot during the reading of the passion narrative (for whatever reason the one from Luke's Gospel sounded very unfamiliar to me; and the unaccustomed phrasings of the familiar events helped me to focus on them better). The homilist spent some time discussing Christ's prayer, "Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me; but not My will but Yours be done."
He said that no prayer for a good thing ever goes unanswered, though they may not all be granted. If they are not granted, God answers the prayer in some other way for our good. And Christ's prayer, to be spared suffering, was a prayer for a good thing. (Of course it was. My basic moral theology is good enough to know that. But it still helps to hear...)
My prayers to be spared the suffering of childlessness are prayers for a good thing. I know they haven't been granted. I don't expect that they will be. But God is not ignoring me from neglect or malice. The homilist said that God did not spare Christ torture and death, because His death was to be the means of all of our salvation (again, basic, I know). God is not required to spare me the crosses I carry, even the ones I bitterly hate. I am not the author of mankind's salvation. But that does not mean that He does not will for me to carry a cross. And if He wills that I should suffer, then my suffering will work for good.
And then I thought, but what about my vocation? Suffering is one thing, but what do I do if God takes my vocation away? Isn't that a particular and objectionable kind of suffering, one that makes life empty and absurd? I kept thinking...motherhood is an obvious and a beautiful vocation. Noble. Blessed. I know that. But what could I want for my own future that would be better than to proceed toward what God has planned for me?
(Even though I have no idea what that is. I went to law school. I got married. I have a job. When I was nineteen and lost and praying and praying for guidance, could I have known all that would occur, I'd have considered all my questions answered. I didn't know then that those things could leave more questions unanswered than answered. You live and learn.)
And then I saw another woman walking up to communion, obviously in her second trimester. Why does everyone else get a basic blessing, often taken for granted, that I don't have? Isn't that just awful and absurd? But there are other people...I have a friend with cancer. It might go successfully into remission after her current treatment. But they still don't know. She's had to leave her demanding career and is not sure whether she'll be able to return to it. She's ten years older than I am. She's not married and I think for the first time is realizing that she might have liked to be for some time now.
She could be dead this year and never get married, let alone hold a child of her own. Wow.
And I know there are people my age who live with deformities that draw a lot more of a stigma than my lack of a stroller. There are people who can't walk. There are people who have substantially greater physical impairments - who go through their whole lives unable to take a lovely nature hike or dance around their living rooms to stupid music, and additionally can't have children. I know some people who live with handicaps, who are joyful. And I'm angry and sad? And I spent the afternoon Sunday with a group of people who (like all people who haven't tried it out) assume that they're fertile. They treated me as if I were a perfectly normal person. I think I'd have drawn more uncomfortable treatment if I were missing a finger than childless.
I don't mean, of course, that I have had a sudden revelation and IF is not a cross. Do I ever know better. And it would be pointless to deny that I now have Issues with God. I was thinking in Mass, trying to frame them right. I guess I've just pushed Him away because I believe He would hurt me, would betray my trust, if I trusted Him. He took things away from me that I didn't believe I could afford to lose. And it did hurt. It hurts a lot. I guess I made a mistake in not being willing to accept suffering. But it wasn't quite an intellectual error, that I could fix by updating my views. There's something bigger there I need to fix.
But I am thisclose to being willing and able to let go. To just embrace whatever's coming (and boy do I wish that I knew what that was!). I told God, I will follow. But I'm going to need graces from You. Piles of them - let's start with the ability to get up in the morning, early, and with energy, so I can start my day with Mass. And the grace to be motivated to say my prayers and go to Mass when I don't feel like it! Before I've relied on my own initiative to get those things done, and believed it wasn't Your problem to get me to do what I should do. But it's clear to me now that I can't do it without help. I'm sure these are unreasonable requests, but I need them fulfilled if I'm to live the right life.
And I remembered that my dh has recently - at least twice, which means he means it - said that we should just look into adoption. Do some research. I am opposed to us doing a home study because I think it would be a disaster. But what could I oppose about research? And why do I have to always be right about things? He wants to do this. I can just listen to him. I will try to follow.
It's not a perfect strategy. It doesn't answer questions like, can I buy a house I love that we can afford now? What happens if I do get pregnant? Or somebody ships us an infant to adopt? Do I put a tiny baby in day care five days a week, which I've always opposed, or face foreclosure on my home? Good grief.
God, if You're listening, I'm going to need a lot of help here.
***And please pray for my husband's Uncle Bill, who died Saturday. He was a good and holy priest, but if his soul doesn't need the prayers, I am sure they will go to one who does.***