The morning of December 8th, 2014, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I sat in the balcony of my church during Mass. Our pastor was preaching to the students who were in attendance from our parish school. He held up a small bird’s nest and asked, “What do you see in this nest?”
He passed it around to the kids in the front rows, second and third graders who looked alternately curious and bashful. One brave kid finally said, “Nothing!”
“That’s right,” he said. “The nest has to be empty so that there would be room for the baby birds. So did Mary have to be free of sin so there would be room for Jesus in her, and so do we have to be empty of sin so that we can make room for God within ourselves.”
I was empty in a different way. My husband and I have been married for five years. We weren’t purposely trying for kids in the first year or two, and we were perfectly fine being the only childless married couple among our friends who all started conceiving on their honeymoons. However, when we did start making more of an effort in the recent years without any success, our nonchalance started turning into other things. Concern, confusion, sometimes sadness. And loneliness. Definitely loneliness.
That morning as I listened to the homily, my first response was to contemplate on the Immaculate Conception of Mary and, well, me. Mary was conceived without sin, and was blessed to be called Mother of God. I, on the other hand, have struggled with sin my whole life. I do my best, I try really hard, to be good in as many ways as I can. And still, I am mother of no one.
So I sat in the balcony pew, as alone and excluded from the rest of the congregation as I felt in my heart. I regarded the empty nest and wondered with sadness, What more are you asking of me, Lord? What kind of sacrifice would make me worthy? How much more could I possibly empty myself when I already feel so poured out, when I am already so barren?
Then, like a song carried in on the wind, I heard the Lord speaking to my heart. This season of emptiness, of barrenness, of childlessness; this, along with everything that comes with it, is my offering. The sadness, the heartache, the tears, the disappointment, the loneliness, the shame; these are my sacrifices. And it is in taking this journey fully and wholeheartedly that God will bear life in me.
So I started writing about my journey, and now I will begin to share some of my reflections with you in this blog series. The topic of infertility sparks a lot of my reflections, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s just about finding purpose in pain, beauty in tragedy, light in the darkness. Basically, it’s about finding God in every season of life, even the ones that seem completely empty.
I’ll be sharing some things that are really personal and sometimes really heavy. I’ll be talking a lot about my spirituality. You might not relate with the things I share, and that’s alright. Or you might be walking your own hard road and maybe we can learn from each other. Either way, I thank you in advance for sharing the journey with me.