My son’s name is Bennett. This is short for Benedictus or Benediction (which means “a blessing” for those of you who don’t church nerd out like a normal person). He is a blessing to me in many ways, but there is one particular reason why I felt called to name him “blessing”.
I’ll get back to that.
Like I said earlier, I want to be a mystic really badly. I’m just not. I still hold out hope that all I need to do is crack that code, but for now I have to be content with other gifts. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by those who have mystical experiences with the divine (this is not just a Christian thing – I love to hear any mystical experience). When a person has a story about answered prayer, a “coincidence”, a vision, divine healing, etc., etc., etc. I’m in. I want to hear all about it in gory detail. Maybe one day it will happen to me through osmosis. That’s how it works, right?
It’s just that I have never experienced a miracle myself. At least I don’t think I have. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I may have – almost one year ago this summer.
Here’s the story of my sort of maybe miracle that I’ve never told anyone before. It will probably be clumsy and choppy, but my excuse is that I’m still trying to figure it out and put words to something special to me. Perhaps you can help me make some sense of this…
My husband and I decided to start a family after my comprehensive exams for my doctoral program were done. After a few months of trying we succeeded.
And then we lost the baby. I was devastated and hurt and emotional and distraught.
Of course, friends and family kept asking us when we were going to have a baby, or why it’s taking so long, or asking us what we’re waiting for…it was all with good intentions (they didn’t know), but it all inevitably reduced me to tears and made me feel like a failure. I started to feel like a science experiment with the details of temperature, tracking ovulation, recording signs – but after months of trying, the nurses at the OBGYN started to throw around words like “medical intervention” and “infertile”. I felt pretty horrid about myself.
Around this time I was attending a local Roman Catholic Church (of which I am still currently a member). Some of you might be a little confused. Let me explain. I am Lutheran born and raised – and I still consider myself very much Lutheran. However, a few years ago some of my church’s leadership hurt my family. As a result, my mom and I still can’t walk into a Lutheran Church without being reduced to tears. It’s too painful. Just like with most pain caused by family members, I hold great hope that one day we will be reunited and all of this will be a distant memory. But for right now I found a surrogate family that I love dearly and who have taken me in with open arms.
Anyway….back to the story…
So I’ve been attending this church for about 4 years and during this time I’ve fallen in love with many Roman Catholic traditions. Last summer, though, in the depths of my desperation something happened. I was walking up to receive my prayer (during the Eucharist I always go up for a prayer/laying on of hands and have made other “accommodations” since I’m not Catholic) from the priest when a little girl ran in front of me. My body ached a deep and desperate pain. I had heard other women mention this when it comes to children, but I had never experienced it. Basically, I hurt deeply for a child. My child.
Then something inside of me told me to take the Eucharist (I know this taboo and a big no no). I know very well the theology of the Eucharist for the Roman Catholic Church and in that moment I was in. I wanted God physically there – present – in what I perceived to be my broken body. So I took it, believed it, and prayed to a mother…God’s mother, Mary, to help me. She had lost a child once. She knew what it was like to be a woman. She would understand. I had faith that she would be a comforting ear.
I realize I’ve just made centuries of Lutherans and Protestants die a little. I get that. But if my calendar is correct, it worked for me.
Some of you might see the events unfolding as inevitable (I mean, I was taking temperatures and measuring all the things), but recently I have kind of sort of started to see it as my one miracle. My blessing from God, currently sleeping in his bassinet as I write about dark times exactly one year ago.
In My Sights This Week (Things I Read & Watched):
*An amazing article by Eboo Patel (my dream future boss) about making room for conservatives in the inter-religious space
*I watched the documentary “Awake: Life of Yogananda”, one of the first popular advocates of eastern religion in the United States (I’m pretty sure Swami Vivekananda was the first and Madame Blavatsky was about the same time decades earlier)
*A fascinating article with the argument that Romans 1 actually is NOT an attack on LGBTQ peoples
*An article with the view that kid’s sports have become the new idolatry for Christian families