I am very drawn to Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way”, which embraces cultivating love in the everyday moments of our lives. In this way, we show our love for God and become saints. Similarly, God uses apparent coincidence and the stuff of this world to show His love for us. Please ponder with me the ways that God revealed and affected His love in me surrounding loss of children, Theology of the Body Institute retreats, and spiritual direction. I pray this leads you to recognize your own unique love story!
As we made our plates, I asked Abigail (name has been changed) if she would have lunch with me. I had noticed she was quiet and kept to herself the first few days of the retreat. I wanted to sit on the deck by myself with my lunch and let the quiet penetrate me but generosity won. Later in the week Abigail explained to the retreat group that she had felt quite anxious approaching that meal – she didn’t know anyone at the retreat and was generally uncomfortable in large groups. She prayed that someone would say something kind to her or perhaps invite her to lunch. Moments later she heard her name over the rolls.
Years before, following another of the TOB Institute retreats, I explained to a young woman that I wanted to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me. I didn’t want to present any obstacles. Suddenly, a mighty wind surrounded us and we quit speaking as we were filled with wonder (and fighting to keep our skirts down). It seemed as if the jet flying just over our heads must surely be brought down out of the sky.
I attended this earlier retreat after losing two sons due to pregnancy complications. Through a series of special experiences surrounding the retreat involving first our Lady and then our Lord, the pain and void in my heart were filled – I was given the grace of the miracle of Cana. I was in love with our Lord, and I sang to Him constantly John Denver’s song, “You Fill Up My Senses”.
While sitting on the porch one pretty summer morning, singing this song to Him and watching a humming bird fly between flower pots, I was stunned that the bird flew up just in front of my face and hovered there. I could feel the wind from its wings. It was then that I realized that our Lord was in love with me and that He delighted in showing me His love – the God that created the universe and everyone that has ever existed was in love with me.
A generous priest then helped me through a period of spiritual direction – a time focused on growth in virtue and detachment from all that kept me from loving the Lord. Our Lord used this time to form me as the instrument He wanted me to be. This time was very challenging in certain respects as I had come to see my womb as a place of death. I felt very distant from my husband.
As this time of direction came to a close, I was consumed with a desire to love well – beginning in my family, with my husband, which ultimately led to increased intimacy and happiness in our marriage. God has also blessed us with two more living sons, the first of which bears special mention. It is God who closes or opens the womb and blesses us with new life. While on a plane flight I read most of the book Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla. At a lay over, I found my gate. Just as I sat down I heard a self-playing grand piano nearby begin to play “You Fill Up My Senses”. And, again, as I was leaving to board my plane, the piano played the same song. I later looked at my Natural Family Planning chart and discovered that this was the conception date of our first living son!
Our God is a lover! He fills us with His love and desires that we then show the same love to the people in our lives – which are gifts of His love to us. This is precisely the gift of the Theology of the Body. We learn to love well – we are transformed by the nurturance and maternal love of our Mother into another Christ. We uniquely bring Christ into the world. He can then transform the people around us, through us. His merciful love and divine life come to the world through His instruments formed in the gifts of His Spirit.
Draw close to our Mother who knows best what we need and who most quickly crushes the head of the serpent. In all of the ordinary moments that are my life, when I am in need of grace to love well, I find greatest help in the angelic salutation, “Hail Mary full of grace… pray for us sinners…”.
Batrice Adcock is a wife and mother of three. She lives in the mountains of Western NC and works from home as the program director for the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte Natural Family Planning Program. Batrice and her family love to hike, watch for shooting stars and eat snow cream. Batrice is currently enrolled in the Certification Program at the Theology of the Body Institute.