My spiritual director said to me last month, "Do you know what this coming year is?" I didn't know what to answer. I asked, "What, the year 2020?" She said smiling, "Yes. 20/20 vision." Great! I'm looking forward to that!
It seems everywhere you look now there is "a year in review": for movies, music, news, etc. So, I though I'd share a few thoughts of my own as I look back over 2019 myself.
First of all, it started with great pain. In fact that is the last blog I wrote before this one, one year ago. My dog (that really belonged to my mother), died a very tragic death at 8 years old and I cried for months. I loved that dog so much, I was heart broken. And she died right in my arms.
So after that, things could only get better.
It was a year of some milestones for a few birthdays and even for our wedding anniversary! It seems, though, that with every happy occasion there is some suffering to temper it. While we were away for our 5th anniversary weekend (picture of us horseback riding from that weekend), Shawn's father went into the ICU. Two weeks later he passed away. But God was so merciful and so present through it all. His peace was palpable. Through an unforeseen turn of events, both Shawn and I were at his Dad's side in the ICU. He died on Friday, September 13th at the 3 O'clock hour right after we prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet. How's that for a peaceful death?!
Also, as we look back over our first 5 years of marriage and remember how God brought us together and all that has happened in this short time, we remain filled with gratitude and wonder. Both of us waited our whole lives and God orchestrated us meeting each other at the perfect time and in the perfect way. As the song goes, God blessed the Broken Road that led us straight to each other. And the classic saying, God writes straight with crooked lines, applies here too but sometimes the lines are really all over the place! :)
It's been a year of great grace with a lot of getting out of my comfort zone (I gave a couple of talks at some prayer groups to share my story and met some wonderful people). There have been some amazing "God-incidences" too! I made my first retreat at Malvern this year for a women's retreat and that was a wonderful weekend with a Capuchin priest leading it. I would highly recommend it: I met new friends, there was quiet time to pray, the grounds were beautiful, the talks by the Father were wonderful and inspiring and very healing. The topic of the retreat was "Women of the Bible" though I thought I was going on a retreat about Mother Teresa of Calcutta (that was the title of that particular retreat weekend). God pulled a fast one on that. :)
My favorite moment of the retreat was when Father gave a talk on the lady healed of the 12 year hemorrhage when she touched the hem of Jesus' cloak. We had adoration at the same time as Father's talk and he said that we too had that opportunity to be like that woman of faith: to go up to the altar and touch the hem of the altar cloth on which the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and to bring all of our brokenness to Jesus to be healed. It was a sacred moment of great grace and healing. I don't think there was a dry eye there or a person whose heart wasn't touched that evening.
With all that is happening in the Church and in the world right now, it hits very close to home and has opened some deep wounds. But I realize the fact that they are still so painful is because there is still a lot of healing to be done. I went through a very traumatizing experience in the Church over a number of years but rather than lose my faith, which was a huge possibility at that time, God allowed it to be shaken, to find even deeper roots so that in the midst of all of these scandals, I would have the grace to stand firm and share the journey I made with others going through the same thing. Through it all, I found strength in the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession) and I found that in counting my blessings rather than focus on past hurts, it's helped me to continue to heal from deep anger and betrayal and to trust more in God. He continues to teach me to put my trust in Him rather than people and to keep my eyes on Jesus rather than the chaos around me. He shows me still how to stay in His peace (through prayer and adoration) rather than succumb to anxiety and depression. He has given me joy that was lost for a time and helps me to have even more hope for the future. I try to keep in mind what St. Paul says about focusing on what is beautiful and good, in the midst of the ugliness that seems prevalent in the news.
Through some very tough times, we are challenged to love the Church even more deeply and with an even more pure love and deeper dedication. I am learning to focus on Jesus the Head, who, despite what goes on here on earth, remains All Holy.
And after everything, rather than condemn others and jump what seems to be a sinking ship but in no way is one, I ask myself, how can I be part of the solution? That is an ongoing question to which I am still waiting for an answer and hope to find more clearly in 20/20.
Best wishes for many blessings and 20/20 vision in the New Year!