13 Jul

Dappled Light & Shared Conversations

I have always loved the way that light and shade dance so beautifully together as a tree responds to the caresses of the wind.  The earth is teased as the leaves let sunshine through first here then there, in fleeting freckles and persistent patches  of light.

As I left breakfast this morning in York University where Synod had become a shared conversation,  I was struck by the beautiful shadow cast on the paving by the tree outside the Vanbrugh building. The rest of the weekend had been overcast, I hadn’t seen the beautiful dance of the grey spectrum on the concrete until that moment.  I felt honoured to be an audience to such unique choreography – only today will the leaves be their current size and shape, never again will the wind sweep and swirl in quite the same way.

I wanted to capture the moment, just one tap on my mobile and the image that fleetingly brought me wonder and joy could be recorded and shared. But there were a number of people inadvertently participating in the dance – those people were entitled to their privacy.  And a single perspective, one view, would not capture anything like the fullness of the dance – there was no angle from which the simple camera on my phone could hold all that space, no position from which I could frame the tree, the sky, the sun, the shadow, the back drop of the lake – too rich, too wide, too expansive, too fluid, too dynamic beyond the scope of my photography.

Deep gratitude has stayed with me through today for that brief moment with God and a microcosm of His creation.  The dancing dappled light was an astoundingly apposite image to take on the journey through our shared conversations.  The sense of it being beyond the scope of one observer to frame, describe, record or capture a helpful reminder that my experience of the shared conversations will not offer an insight into the whole. The huge variance of shade and light, the nuanced shades of grey as the wind changed the pattern of the leaves helpfully reflecting the range of views expressed in our various groups, not simply black and white contesting the space but a seemingly infinite range of shades highlighting one another.

The tree, well established, deeply rooted and yet responsive and dancing in the wind; the newest growth the most agile performers delivering the most astounding choreography. The wind, unseen and yet guiding, energising, inspiring every movement. And the light, none of it possible without the light, too bright to look on directly at its source but beautifully accessible as it finds it’s way to dance on the receptive ground.

Rooted, inspired and reflecting God’s light. The shared conversations were full of hope for me.  Moving, dynamic and accompanied by shadows.  The shared conversations came at some cost and not without pain.

I feel greatly privileged to have been part of this process and pray the next steps in this dappled light will be beautifully choreographed too.

16 Jun

Justice & Jimmy

Justice. An elusive little slip of a thing. So hard to get hold of. Looks different whenever the light changes. Never seems totally solid. As what looks just from one angle looks barbaric from another. Justice skates on thin ice. Unless of course justice skates on clearly established truth. In which case, justice can glide, pirouette, grand jettee en tournee comme elle veut because with truth as her stage justice can perform miraculously.

Truth makes justice constant. Truth is the floodlight that causes justice to shine. Truth is also the floodlight that causes justice to cast a long, indelible shadow. Truth is a peculiar light, completely reveals every fault , every detail and yet, the only light by which forgiveness can come.

I learned today that someone that had spent years seeking & finally finding the brutal light of the truth, died before justice had been allowed her finalé. The stage set, the lights blinding but the performance not quite brought to its crescendo.My tears a small tribute to a man who gave years as a tribute to his son. Jimmy, I pray that tonight in heaven truth & justice are weaving a beautiful dance for you. That somehow the sorrow of the past, the truth of the present & the justice of the future are all beautifully dancing together for you in the presence of God. Rest in peace Jimmy. You deserve some peace. Xxx


31 May

Jesus was surprised

A reflection on the healing of the Roman Soldier’s servant in Luke chapter 7. 

Jesus was surprised

The Word, who’s seen all of history
Jesus, who saw the earth start,
saw the first sunrise, heard the first bird’s song
Jesus, who saw humanity fall, brother murder brother,
son betray mother, friends reject each other
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Jesus, who’s heart broke as sin ran rampant and God’s ways were abandoned
Jesus, who grieved as the world was covered with flood
Jesus, who has seen God’s infinite love rejected repeatedly by the people he had chosen
Jesus, who knew that love could beat hate, and death could be defeated…
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised.

Jesus who came to seek and save the lost
Jesus who loved from heaven to earth and as far as the cross
Jesus who knows our thoughts and our hearts.
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Jewish elders speaking up for a soldier
Like a red singing the praises of blues
Or a saint howling for the wolves
Jews sticking up for the Romans.
Now that is a surprise
That’s a big surprise
I wasn’t expecting that.
But it’s not what surprised Jesus.

Jesus was surprised

A soldier built a synagogue
A Roman helping the Jews serve God
Normally enemies but here; friends, with love.
That’s a big surprise
I wasn’t expecting that.
But it’s not what surprised Jesus.

Jesus was surprised

In all his earthly life No one had grasped it
Not Mary his mother
Not Peter his disciple
Not John his beloved
None of them could see
But with a heart of love
And the gift of faith
The soldier believed
With a faith not found elsewhere.
Jesus was surprised,
Jesus was surprised.
He wasn’t expecting that.
Jesus was surprised

A soldier with faith for a miracle
Knew he could not earn it
Knew he didn’t deserve it
But had faith that Jesus could do it.
Jesus was surprised,
Jesus was surprised.
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised.

The soldier’s request was not for himself
But a heartfelt plea for another
Faith stretched by compassion
Not comfort or desire
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

God’s love so often rejected
God’s plan so rarely understood
God’s word so easily doubted
The soldier accepted, understood and trusted
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Faith in a word from the word
Hope trusting the power of a voice
A miracle by messenger
A glimpse of things to come
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

The soldier practiced the plan for the future…
Faith in a word from the word?
Hope trusting the power of a voice?
A miracle by messenger?
How God works now!
The Roman was a prophet
A sign of things to come
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

We are the soldier pleading for a friend
We are the messenger seeking the miracle
We are the servant needing to be healed
We are the voice which speaks God’s word
We speak the healing words of the word.
We are a glimpse of God’s love
Who expected that!

15 Sep

Disturbing hope: Settle down in Babylon

PLant gardens and eat what they produce

My youngest helping to plant potatoes in our garden 2 years ago, he is now 3, the same age as drowned refugee Aylan Kurdi.

 

Most translations of the Bible subtitle Jeremiah 29 ‘a letter to the exiles’ or something similar.  Jeremiah’s words to those in Babylon then exiled from Jerusalem echo down the millennia into our current global situation:

‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’

Back then I imagine this was the last thing the exiles wanted to hear.  The prophet, God’s mouth piece, telling them to make this strange land their home. The exiles opening the letter would be hoping to hear that things were changing, that they should prepare for action in readiness for a return home.  Maybe they hoped the prophet was writing with news that the Babylonians had been overthrown in Jerusalem. Maybe they hoped the prophet was writing with a strategy for undermining Babylonian power. I can’t imagine how they felt when what they read was an Old Testament equivalent of ‘calm down, calm down.’

Unwillingly living in the land of their enemy, full of anger and resentment following the trauma of seeing their own city taken captive, it would only be natural for them to want revenge, to ruin Babylon.  Yet God’s prophet tells them to settle down. Huh, not rise up? To marry the locals. Are you kidding? To seek the prosperity of Babylon. What, not Jerusalem?

How disturbing. I find the Common English Bible’s subtitle for the section the most pertinent, ‘Disturbing Hope: Settle Down in Babylon.’

Reading it now, it is also disturbing to realise that as a Christian in Europe, I am not so much exile but more Babylonian.  So, if Jeremiah was writing to the Babylonian’s, if Jeremiah was writing to those countries receiving exiles now, how would it read?

‘Give them land, welcome them; show them which crops thrive and share your family recipes. Educate them with your children, let them live, learn and love together with you that they might make families full of joy. Do not control their numbers. Encourage and enable their contributions, your future and that of your children depends on it.’

What are you going to do?

http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/get-involved/responding-refugee-crisis/film-refugee-crisis-urgent-call-action

 

https://www.facebook.com/HopeFoodbank?fref=ts

http://www.liverpool.anglican.org/Refugees-Responding-with-Heart-and-Mind

https://www.opendoorsuk.org/campaign/stepofyes/syria_150904.php?src=WB1528&step1=appeal

http://www.tearfund.org/en/refugeecrisis/

 

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency’s figures for 2014 there are globally 19.5 million refugees and 38.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 7.6 million IDPs in Syria alone. In 2014 there were 1.66 million applications for asylum worldwide, the highest number ever. It is likely the figures for 2015 will be similar or higher.

http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

 

 

08 Sep

Whole woman, not just a womb

urban poppy

This is a story about God,
God and a woman who waited,
waited 5 years then conceived me and rejoiced
but the pain of the waiting never left her.
God spoke to her, through a prophet
(He does that):
“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
quoted the prophet
to the woman; round, glowing and full of me, her baby.
And she knew God had been in her waiting.

 

This is a story about God,
God and a mother who loved,
loved so generously & unconditionally
that her children did the same.
Heavy hearted, expecting first day tears
she led her daughter to the school gate
but the strength of the mother’s love
& knowledge of God with her
gave the girl enough to overflow;
she took the hand of a crying child and comforted them.
“She’ll make a great mother” they said
to the woman, proud and full of hope.
And she knew God was in her parenting.

 

This is a story about God,
God and a mother who grieved,
grieved quietly confused for the daughter
once full of love but now remote and raging
angrily distant, so the mother asked “why?”
And, again, 5 years she waited;
5 years her for daughter’s rebirth.
And more for her to speak the truth of the horror
that made her soft heart, hard and jagged.
“She’s a typical teen” they said
to the mother who waited and grieved
(they didn’t know the whole story)
and she clutched at glimpses of God in her grieving.
This is a story about God
God and 2 men that were broken
so broken that their sinful nature violently engulfed the girl
in episodes of unspeakable horror
that a Sunday school vision of God could not contain
but He was there
For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost
and they were very lost, the two men
who did not hear God…maybe they have now?
This is a story about God
God and the hurt, angry girl
the girl lost in the shock and the fear and the shame
the horror, the violence, the dirt
and the disease it caused in her inner most parts
beyond her capacity to feel,
beyond her vocabulary to express
self anesthetised with street drugs
internally destroyed & alone
externally a dark silence PAUSE
eventually with the tangled anger of a toddler’s tantrum
the girl cried out to God: ‘Its not fair’
And, surprised, she heard him agree.
And the silence was broken.

This is a story about God
God and the man who said,
“I love you, not just your womb” when,
days after they met, his suggestions for childrens’ names
(Josh, Tom and Beth)
were met with tears
because the girl’s diseased inner parts
were potentially broken
by the 2 men that didn’t listen to God
but there was still plenty of hope
as little was known
and high expectations remained
“You’ll have fun trying” they said,
to the couple who knew
God was with them in their marriage.
This is a story about God
God and the woman who hid,
hid under a bushel of disappointment
when, after trying and failing,
the image on the screen
showed tubes twisted and closed
and the young nurses looked away
and the cold instruments offered no comfort
and the woman could not hide
the pain in her heart
that her husband could see
before her words could say
I’m sorry, it is as we feared: I’m broken.
This is a story about God
God and the couple who prayed
prayed with faith and with doubt,
and were sometimes more bruised
as their faith was questioned
& others spoke promises not theirs to make
(you are already pregnant said one, she was wrong)
and over time their prayer changed
no longer a plea for pregnancy (but that would still be nice)
now desperation for grace
to find sovereign God’s peace with how things are
and in the unfamiliar quiet beauty of a high healing mass
the flooding of the spirit with the words:
In the name of God who gives you life.
Receive Christ’s forgiveness, his healing and his love.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
grant you the riches of his grace,
his wholeness and his peace.

This is a story about God
God and the woman who hoped
hoped in Christ alone
who did not promise pregnancy
but the greater, fuller hope of heaven
Christ who saw a whole woman,
not just a womb,
and loved her,
and comforted her,
Christ who understands her trauma
who shares her continued grief
as even in a home filled with sons,
sons that grew in her heart through adoption,
her womb’s emptiness aches
but no longer the primal dark grief of her youth
but a dull ache which does not obscure
the light of Christ
who tells her she shines
and she knows God is with her in the grieving and the living.
This is a story about God,
God and me, the barren woman that many call mum.
Testimony written for Trinity College Chapel November 2011

urban poppy context

The stunning poppy at the top of this post was growing by a derelict house on Everton Brow, here in Liverpool. The 2 images seem appropriate to accompany this testimony, the urban decay creating the unlikely context for such striking beauty,  reflecting on my own difficulties has helped me find more of the rich beauty of God.

20 Jul

Little Girl, Arise

talitha cumYesterday evening 50 people gathered at St Peter’s in Woolton and we read through Mark’s Gospel together.

As I listened expectantly, prayerfully I was asking God for what I call His ‘holy highlighter’ to make something from His word jump out of the reading to stir the Kingdom in my heart and mind.  I think my prayer was answered with a huge, YES, here it is….

As chapter 5 was read the words ‘Talitha cum’ resonated, my soul fizzed and a kaleidoscope of ways in which Jesus is still saying ‘Talitha cum’ unfurled in my mind.

In the Gospel, Jesus says ‘Talitha cum,’ which means ‘Little girl, arise,’ to the centurion’s daughter who has died whilst Jesus was delayed on his journey to her.  She is restored, walks about and Jesus tells those caring for her to give her something to eat.

As I listen, those words echo through the centuries and Jesus says ‘Talitha cum, little girl, arise’ to His disicples, to the early Church, to the Church through history, to us to restore life now.

To His bride, the church, that is being lamented as dormant, irrelevant, dying, Jesus says, ‘Talitha cum.’  Get up church, arise. Don’t listen to the voices saying it is too late.  Live like the kingdom is near. With 50 people listening to the Gospel being read, signs of life are visible and encouraging.

To the women of the Church, as an Anglican my thoughts are particularly focused on the Church of England and the advent of a gender mixed episcopate, Jesus says ‘Talitha cum, little girl arise.’ Get up girls, take the opportunities that are open to us, walk around in the fullness of life, eat alongside our brothers. Shake off that imposter syndrome, don’t wait for male colleagues to ratify your ideas little girl, arise!

With that phrase, Talitha cum, jumping out of the reading I heard the rest of the Gospel with ‘little girl, arise’ acting as a lens, changing what I heard.

Talitha cum, as Jesus warns his disciples to remain alert, to watch out for His return, He says, “Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Talitha cum. Keep awake, little girl, arise.  Don’t slumber.  Wait but not passively.  Arise whilst you wait, be vigilant, be creative build the Kingdom.

Talitha cum, to His disciples, the fledgling church, who fall asleep when He asks them to pray at Gethsemane. No longer gentle words of healing but a passionate, powerful call to action. “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough!” Tailtha cum.

With Christ’s words calling me to awake and arise, the Bishop’s letter telling me I am ‘ready’ to seek an incumbent status post echoes the call. Talitha cum.

wakey wakey small

21 May

Frustrated passions

yellow tulip

There’s supposed to be a fine line between passion and madness.  Many great artists have had their sanity questioned at some time in their life. Many of those that from a distance in history seem like ground breaking incredible achievers, inventors, explorers were in their own time considered quite loopy.

These are people that have developed a passion for something out of the ordinary, a hunger to portray beauty, a desire to break the bounds of what is considered possible, a yearning to tread virgin soil, to do something unique and extraordinary. In order to fulfill such ambitions a certain determination is needed, a capacity to focus on one goal at the expense of other aspects of life.

People develop passions for anything from the mundane to the spectacular.  I once spent a long weekend in Brussels translating for a specialist surveyor… her passion was soil and the effects of industrial land usage on the soil in immediate contact with and surrounding industrial developments. Her passion so deeply cherished, studied and communicated that she travels to check the earth all over the planet. Her passion has formed her career, literally opened the earth up to her. Her passion is born out of a love for the world that we live in and her passion creatively challenges others to interact with the earth in a way that cherishes it.

Creative expression of passion is as old as creation and is, in my opinion, the source of creation.  God, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit, love one another so passionately that we, humanity, the world, everything, become the creative expression of that passion. The love between the three persons of the Trinity so immense, so fierce, so tender, so beautiful, so passionate that they create something, everything, from that love. Their delight and pleasure in their love means they passionately create us to participate in that love. Just as the impassioned sportsperson becomes a coach, the artist exhibits their work, the dancer takes to the stage – loving passion draws others in.

Our desire to procreate, to create life out of our passion and love for another, is an entirely human and yet utterly Holy desire. It is an exquisitely beautiful way of opening our love out, inviting someone else to participate in it and allowing our love a life beyond our reach. There are of course many ways in which a passionate pair can open their love to allow others in, all forms of hospitality mirror the passion of creation by risking the invasion of others and inviting them to participate in the love being offered.

However the desire for the unique creation of a child is an out working of love that cannot be replicated in any other form. A child that is formed from the passionate act of making love, a child that is formed by the egg welcoming the invasive sperm, a child that is formed by the hospitality of the womb despite the often high physical cost of that hospitality, a child that is formed by the intertwining of lovers’ DNA.

It is a tragedy when any persons passion becomes unobtainable to them: The injured athlete that can no longer run.  The arthritic pianist who can no longer play.  The artist with cataracts who can no longer see to paint. The couple that cannot procreate. The God who faces rejection from those His passion created.

If those in history pursuing their unique passions seemed to live on the edge of sanity, how great the strain on mental well being for those with frustrated passions. A passion in love that procreates is as old as the earth and as common as grains of sand, yet for some of us it is unobtainable, our grief maybe understandably close to madness.

06 May

Empty room?

View from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

View from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

This evening was the first in a series of evenings at Liverpool Cathedral exploring how to live fruitfully whilst going through infertility.  Perhaps we had not given enough attention early enough to publicity: No one came to participate.  Those of us that have prayerfully planned and prepared content, food, hearts and minds were there but no one came to gather with us.

We were there in time to create a hospitable environment, food ready to serve, kettle on and praying for those that might come. We waited, nothing happened.  There were a couple of false alarms, noises that made us think someone might be on the stairs – that our room would be filled.  But a peep out of the door confirmed; no one was coming.

Expectant and yet unfilled, our meeting room much like our wombs…

Our desire to live faithfully and fruitfully in our infertility,  the delight we have already found in shared stories,  our determination to avoid redundancy with our time and resources meant that the room was far from empty..

We ate well, laughed together, there were tears too but mainly we shared hopes and dreams about how our stories walking with God through infertility might be of some comfort to others.  Discussing the tension between how much we would have loved to come to such a course soon after discovering we had fertility issues but how hard it would be to come as the complex emotions create a raw fragility hard to place into the hands of strangers.

In time some of the dreams we shared may come to reality, perhaps a support group, maybe some one day events… perhaps you dream of some kind of support that we might be able to offer?

Meanwhile, we continue to pray that the next four Wednesdays will be fruitful, hopefully with participants joining us. Knowing that with us and God the room will never really be empty.

Next week, if anyone can make it, we will be sharing food,  our stories and survival tips from 6:30 in the Radcliffe Room at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

15 Mar

Cot Idol

cot idol

Here’s one I wrote a while ago, that has been rescued after the site crashed…

Worship of idols used to be a lot simpler, there was much greater clarity.  A bronze statue, a golden calf, a sacred pole, an altar to a false deity, a beast endowed with holiness by some arbitrary process or decision.  You knew where you were. You chose an idol and sacrificed to it.  You dedicated time, worship, money; whatever the idol demanded. The pleasure or displeasure of the idol incurred by your actions determined your well-being and success.  When Yahweh demanded the removal and destruction of idols back in the day, those idols were clearly identifiable and God’s wrath and His people’s actions had a clear target.  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+12%3A+2-4&version=NRSV)

Idolatry has lost its brazen and in broad daylight quality. Today’s idols masquerade as normal, innocuous, everyday people and objects. Some of them even good things. But all get in the way of relationship with God. Today’s idols demand worship in much subtler forms, are hard to identify and  even harder to remove.  And yet for our faith to flourish, remove them we must.

So how on earth do you remove the idol that we can so easily make out of the desire to have a child?

I have been wrestling with my idolatry for almost all of my 43 years, with the idol taking greater hold when my fertility became uncertain following traumatic events when I was 17. My now husband’s first declaration of his ‘intentions’ 19 years ago, included proposed names for our children, Tom, Beth and Joshua – so my idol became shared.

Culture and church community often colluded with our idolatry, the desire for a child becoming our focus and purpose.  The idol all-consuming and unrelenting in withholding its blessing.

When we asked for prayer regarding our childlessness, the prayers often appeased our idol. Prayers for pregnancy, prophetic (sounding) declarations of when our idols would appear to us, heart felt pleas that our infertility would end.

It didn’t.

And within the search for the child idol we found ourselves often remote from God, so our idolatrous quest and worship left us battered and betrayed, empty and isolated. We realised we had to restore God to his rightful place in our lives and place our desire for a child as subject to Him.  We had twisted God into becoming a subject of our idol, casting Him in the role of dispenser of children, seeking Him for that purpose, rather than for His glory and the purposes of His kingdom.

The child idol was firmly in place for the first few years as we tried to get pregnant.  I wish I could identify the pivotal moment when we decided that we would ask for prayer to help us remain faithful to God rather than asking God to get us pregnant. Many have struggled to understand, those that pray with us often still prioritise the empty whom over the faithful heart.

Banishing the idol and seeking God has not taken away the grief of infertility, it has however enabled us to embrace adoption and fill our home with delightful sons.  Banishing the idol and seeking God has enabled us to see our brokenness as a gift to be shared, from which fruitfulness can emerge.  It is a great privilege to be traveling alongside David, Lizzie and others to offer our brokenness to seek to equip others to better approach infertility with God in an event that took place in Liverpool on March 17thhttp://www.liverpool.anglican.org/lifecallhomeforgood  Looking to the future we are seeking to develop further resources and events to support those trying to hold onto faith through the journey of infertility… what could we do that would help you?

Our idol has never lived up to our expectations but our God continues to exceed them.

10 Mar

Walking on Eggshells

 

 

I had known Phil just 4 days when he asked me if Tom, Beth and Joshua would be good names for our children. Much to his surprise, I burst into tears: I already knew I was very unlikely to be able to get pregnant.

There have since been a seemingly never ending variety of conversations that follow a similar pattern. Someone makes a kindly intended, seemingly innocuous comment based on the presumption that getting pregnant is part of life’s naturally unfurling pattern.  I either erect a wall to protect myself or drop my defenses to show them a little of my pain.

I demolished the wall and Phil saw more pain than I had allowed myself to acknowledge before then. As a single woman, my infertility could be held at a distance, disconnected from my reality like an unproven theory.  Phil’s words brought it hurtling into the present.

The moments that followed were bursting with potential for disaster.  One clumsy statement from Phil and I would retreat into my shell of shame and fear.  Succumbing to the desire to cling to the unfounded dream of a perfect wife and Phil would leave the story on this page.

Thankfully, Phil says it was in the moment of my tearful honest vulnerability, that he knew he was in love with me.  Which is just as well because his next words sealed my love for him.  ‘I want all of you, not just your womb.’ And he held me as we both wept.

Many similar conversations have not finished so well.

The initial comment or question has sometimes been met with a hardening of my defences and a brush off, varying from fragile & gentle to angry & brusque. The other in the conversation probably bewildered and confused wondering what on earth went wrong.  I am left feeling unfaithful to my infertile history and community, I know that telling my story is a means of chipping away at the shame associated with infertility.

Sometimes it goes the other way.  I drop my defenses and respond honestly.  Then the other in the conversation is trusted for a moment to hold a little of my brokenness, which is frightening.

It is a difficult gift to handle and some drop it immediately, leaving me to pick up the bits and carry on.  Others meet my brokenness with embarrassment, which matches my shame and we share some mutual discomfort. Excruciatingly some glibly belittle the grief or express their relief that someone as strong as I is able to carry such a burden. Yet others propose an infallible solution, over 17 years I’ve heard quite a range, imagining that perhaps we hadn’t furnished ourselves with accurate details of how to go about making babies in the first place.

Phil’s response that acknowledged the problem and embraced me as a person, a whole and yet broken person, has been echoed by others over the years. There have been many brave friends and strangers that have seen the absorbing mess of infertility and embraced my vulnerability anyway.  For that, I am thankful.