10-10-10 is a day that will be remembered for many things by many people. For me, this day will be remembered as the day of Hope. It began with the homily from my parish pastor during the Sunday liturgy. Fr. John pointed out the similarities between Namaan, from 2 Kings, to the Samaritan leper, from Luke. Both were healed of their afflictions; however, the main point was that both were considered outsiders to the Jews. Fr. John listed some who may be considered outsiders by us: relatives, neighbors, those of different color, different religion, etc. Women who have had abortions came to my mind because I have actually heard people say they do not deserve forgiveness.
There are no outsiders with God. While I am not post-abortive, I was called by our Sorrowful Mother to pray for healing for post-abortive women, then later to an active role of ministry with Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats. I have witnessed women deeply wounded by abortion; some in so much despair that they find it hard to believe that God could forgive and love them. During the course of the weekend I have witnessed the mighty hand of God restore dignity and hope to those who thought of themselves as outsiders not worthy of God’s mercy or deserving of new life.
That afternoon I went to the dedication of the Hope sculpture in the Garden of Hope, sponsored by the Gospel of Life Committee, which represents the message of hope for life and also for God’s mercy. Originally, I had planned on going to a Marian Congress in honor of our Blessed Mother. Maybe it was she who drew my heart to the dedication instead as she did to prayer and Rachel’s Vineyard. The sculpture depicts Jesus, a woman, and an infant. Jesus is holding the infant in one arm, which is looking up at Jesus, while holding the hand of the mother. Jesus and the mother are facing each other and appear to be conversing. The mother is holding a heart pendant with her other hand. I wondered if Jesus gave her the pendant. Maybe it is a special gift to remind her of the healing of her wounded heart now made whole. It makes me think of an insight shared on a recent retreat by one of the ladies, “Healing of our wounds does not mean that there will be no trace of the wounds, rather, our wounds are to be glorified, like the glorified wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus still bears the wounds of His Passion, but He does not suffer from them anymore; we also will always have the wounds from our past abortions — but glorified and perfected and healed in Him! Let us each join our wounds with those of our Blessed Lord, and know that He will bring them to glory in heaven!”
The brochure describes the scene in the Garden as a “Place of Hope: Jesus comforts us with the assurance that our precious one now lies cradled in His love and will forever live and rejoice in the presence of God. A Place of Love: Trusting in Jesus, who gathered children into His arms and blessed them, we commend our precious one to His tender care until the day when we will be brought together again. A Place of Healing: In this quiet setting, we come to understand that Jesus is always inviting us to receive His forgiveness and love. He heals us with the reassurance that none who trust in His mercy are lost to Him.” The sculpture’s setting is called “Garden of Hope: Remembering those innocent lives who have gone to the embrace of an all merciful God. For those who trust in God: in the pain of sorrow there is Consolation, in the face of despair there is Hope, in the midst of death there is Life. We ask for strength, for healing and for love.”
Before the conclusion of the prayer service, all were invited to come forward to reverence the sculpture and to take a rose. I already had my eye on a yellow rose which was just beginning to open. I wanted it for two reasons. The first being like graces received in the beginning of conversion. As the heart continues to respond to grace a new life opens up just like the rose as its petals open up to reveal the beautiful flower. The second reason was for the birth of my new niece who was scheduled to be delivered on Monday, the 11th; however, God had another plan. Just now, an inspiration came about another flower, a lily, which makes me think of the Resurrection. My niece’s name is Lily.