This story was first presented at “This too shall pass: Stories of hope, victory and community,” an Instagram Live event hosted by Ever Eden Publishing and Radiant magazine in order to comfort people during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This is what I know about hope.
I know that eight years ago, a routine ultrasound showed that my second baby didn’t have a heartbeat. In the weeks that followed, I tried to pray, but for the first time in my life, I didn’t have any words for God. I was broken and uncertain and had some idea that somewhere down the line the pieces of our family’s life might get put together again, but I didn’t have any idea how long that would take.
Time and again, I made the sign of the cross and either sat or wept, either way unable to bring anything to God other than the fragmented pieces of the woman I used to be.
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Soon, I was pregnant again. I delivered the news to my husband with fear and doubt. I went for more ultrasounds with this child, and every time, I braced myself for the worst. Once I felt him kick just before the wand touched my belly and still I wasn’t sure he’d be alive.
When I delivered this child shortly before Christmas, I looked at him and experienced hope like I never have before and never expect to again. It was pure and true and loud. It was alive and kicking. Much like he is today.
I am pregnant with another child now, with a due date nearly the same as that of the child we lost. In the first weeks I feared and doubted again — the cellular memory of the loss was strong. But so was the memory of hope. I learned about God’s love for me when I was still, when I drew close to my Father.
This is what I know about victory.
This Advent prepared me for Christmas, sure, but even more so for this surreal Lent. I worked through the Mass readings each night of that season, and my eyes were opened as never before to the certainty of victory in Christ Jesus.
He came to save, to redeem, to love. And he succeeded. Even before the Incarnation, God knew exactly what he was doing in Christ.
Isaiah tells us, “In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.”
And again, “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.”
St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.”
We need to bring our all to the battle every day — the battle against this virus, the battle against our own temptations, the battle against a culture of death. But we can’t forget, we can’t lose sight of the eternal truth that the eternal victory is already won in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is what I know about community.
Last summer, my family moved to a larger home on the other side of town. I’d wanted to make the move for a long time, but when the opportunity came, it seemed to be too good to be true. I felt guilty for initiating this step, for the changes it meant for my in-laws, with whom we lived then and still live now, and for having a prayer answered so abundantly when I knew other families were struggling.
I came to see God’s will in the move. When I did, I realized the only response that really honored him was gratitude. I chose to see the house as a gift and then to offer it as a gift.
From the beginning of the school year and until “social distancing,” I invited women to come over on Thursday mornings for an hour and half and just be.
I’ve known some of them for decades. Others for just a few years. Some I meet for the first time as they walk through my door, having been invited by a mutual friend.
The gift I was given and chose to then give has become, again, a gift to me. This community, even now when we can’t gather in person, is shaping me, forming me as a daughter of God. In these friendships, these children and this witness to the Faith, I see how alive and active is the Holy Spirit.
I wouldn’t have put hope, victory and community together to look for connections if I hadn’t been prompted to. But what truth lies in drawing them near? Hope, victory, community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God is holding us in his hands, he is in this boat with us on this rocky water, and he is reaching out for open hearts into which he can extend his peace.
This is what I know now, and with his grace, the desire to know him and love him more will guide me through the days to come.