Being at the shore is always a place of peace for me. Whereas my husband can and does find God everywhere in nature, in all kinds of weather, for me it's at the shore, gazing out at the mighty ocean, digging my toes in the cool sand and wondering who had walked there before me? Where did this particular sand churn up from? The frothy surf washing over my toes - who else did this water touch?
I allowed myself some time on vacation to wander and think and write a bit and I had some decisions to make. I've decided to attend a 2nd Rachel's Vineyard retreat and though I asked just about everyone in my little circle of hope and healing, I was still unconvinced as to what I should do - attend another retreat or not? It didn't help that of those I asked - no one really gave me a concrete answer! I came home with the decision that yes, it will be a good thing for lots of reasons and I'm sure lots more that I haven't even thought of in my control-freak nature of a mind while I still go on thinking I'm in charge of all of this.
If I wasn't totally and completely convinced of my decision - I received even more confirmation at Mass this morning with the Gospel. I didn't even see it coming.
"There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.This scripture has come to mean so very much to me it's hard to articulate and hearing the words spoken at Mass today gave me goosebumps. I've spoken about it before on my journey and, go figure, not until today did I realize that the story is in Mark and Luke. (Don't you love it when that happens?) Anyway, today's Gospel illuminated some new things for me. I've spent much time waiting and wondering when I'll be fixed of all of this. I began this journey in October of 2009 - and here on July 1, 2012 - I'm still at it. On vacation, there were a few moments of, "there should be three." However, I've learned to feel the grief for a moment, allow myself to think about it and then let it go.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"
But his disciples said to Jesus,
"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."
But, the Gospel today caused me to think that it isn't just one touch of his garment - although that's all it takes in this particular passage - but in looking at the bigger picture - today it became for me the idea that the garment is there for the touching whenever the need should arise. I don't have to be hemorrhaging for 12 years (or 20 +) before I reach out just for the mere brush with His power.
On this earth, in this body, I will break again and again, pain and suffering will return in some form or another. Not until the next life will everything be healed completely. But for now, I have all that He has left for me to touch, to reach out for, to sustain me, to buoy me when I feel I'm going under. The Mass, His body, His blood, adoration, the blessing of a good Priest, reconciliation, spiritual places, spiritual reading, a Church with the doors open. In this journey I've found places where He is that I would have never looked for at all. The same feeling and healing of touching His garment - I have that feeling on this earth, in this life, every time my child reaches out for my hand, each time my husband touches the small of my back.
Perhaps in all my waiting to be perfect before coming before Him, my waiting to be fixed to truly surrender to all He wants to give me, I've missed what I've already been given? I've learned to seek out what fills my soul and heals my heart. I've learned to ask for help and not be nearly as ashamed of it as I used to be. I've learned that John the Baptist and St. John are not the same person! (I hate it when that happens.)
Alas, work remains. I have grown a strong enough faith to believe in His forgiveness and mercy, but I'm afraid I haven't learned how or have refused to forgive many people who I feel have hurt me in many ways. Take for instance the new ministry by Abby Johnson, And Then There Were None. On it's face - a truly remarkable idea that no doubt will have a huge impact. However, it's hard for me to get totally on board with the idea, holding on to my anger at those who sell the lies behind the brick walls. Opening up this proverbial Pandora's Box has opened up more than just one box. I fear now that this refusal is weighing me down and it's getting heavier instead of lighter. Of course, the big stumbling block is forgiving my Mom and my Dad. But, now that I'm a parent, I see that it's easy for me to sit up on my high horse and say that I would never do the same as what my parents did. I can't claim to know what their reasons or motivations where. To waste time on trying to figure it out is pointless, but spend time I do all the same.
Next on the list are all the boys who came before my husband and took a little or large piece with them when they left. Whether it was just a piece of an already tender heart searching for love or actions that left a gaping would surrounded with bruises and broken bones. Whether it was the not taking me seriously enough when I said no, or my not being strong enough to say no and mean it. Or whether it was when I said no, and then was kicked in the face and body and no quickly became a yes. All wounds, and many more, that need healing.
I'm not sure what I hate more - the fact that these things happened or that I allowed them to happen. That I put myself in the position to let them happen or - we circle back around to my parents as I angrily wonder where the hell where they? A different time. A different place. A different idea of parenting.
Even with all the horribleness, there were glimmers of my, however faint, voice when I refused to be taken advantage of, when I said no and I meant it. Obviously, I had it in me somewhere, some strength that came from within, from Him.
I was in a "relationship" with a boy or let's call it what it was - after school sex before the parents came home. He never took me out on a date and wouldn't acknowledge me in the hallway beyond a "hey." One day after school - he decided it would be a good idea to give me to his friend as a birthday present. Yep, the friend was at the door ready to jump in. As much as it physically hurts to put these memories out there - this moment and many others were after my abortion. I had allowed myself to be used to the point where a boy thought I would be just fine with the idea. I, for once, said no. I flat out refused. The friend left. But the boy wasn't about to let the after school special end with me.
I had another "girlfriend" who picked me up to go out with a group and I found out later that the only reason she invited me was to "entertain" her friend and yes - that means exactly what you are thinking. I refused and was belittled and defriended in ways that were most horrible before the time where a simple delete button on Facebook defriended someone. These were the times of a public defriending where everything you'd ever done would be dragged out or passed in a note all over the school.
Some of this I know sounds petty. Some of it just needs to be forgotten and I had forgotten a lot of it for a long time. But, for some reason, now, I feel the need to somehow forgive those who hurt me, those who took advantage, those who belittled me, those who allowed it to happen. I hope to find my way to do just that. The Enemy knows my weaknesses well it seems for as soon as one wound heals another starts to bleed. And they are all different. All in need of treatment to heal the pain and somehow make the memory fade away. And all lead back to sex, pregnancy, and abortion. Two things that should be sacred and, thank God, are for me now, and one that should never be allowed to happen to anyone.
I'm still hemorrhaging, maybe in different ways, but at least now I can touch the hem of his clothes in a myriad of ways, ...just for the brush of him. Thank you to Kariann over at Daughter of the King for posting this beautiful video on today's Gospel.