“Do you ever feel like you need a new beginning? That’s exactly how I was feeling not too long ago. I was tired and frustrated, a little disoriented spiritually, disgusted with some of the things happening in the world and in Church, and distracted by so many situations that I could do absolutely nothing about! At first I just ignored all these feelings and tried to keep busy. But ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. It took a while, but finally I realized that I needed a new beginning”. Matthew Kelly, Rediscovering Jesus
As I read this statement awhile ago, I literally yelled out in my room, “Wow, Yes, this describes me!” So, I re-evaluated, introspected, and carefully planned some “endings” to open the energy needed for some new start points.
My new beginning began with quitting corporate in 2014, starting my own business in 2015, and beginning a journey with the Motherless Daughters Ministry in 2016. This three year season of changes has introduced me to some of the most amazing, strong, openly vulnerable, grace filled and grace giving women I have ever known.
My most recent opportunity for continued growth through my “new beginnings” adventure came through introductions, observations, and insights into the world of some very courageous and spirited women. I was asked to be a part of the “Care Team” during the recent Journey Retreat created by the Motherless Daughters Ministry. The impact this last event had on me, as well as the women I shared some time with, is eloquently articulated by Maxine Harris, PhD, in The Loss That is Forever;
“Some events are so big and so powerful that they cannot help but change everything they touch.”
The Journey Retreat brought women feeling the pain of mother-loss together in Cincinnati, OH from as far away as Canada. Various ages, cultural influences, ranges of experiences, differing places of grief, and a willingness to embrace their new beginnings, were combined in such a way that the event created community, hope, acceptance, grace and healing. As I reflect on this four day experience, I am finding it extremely difficult to express the deep reaching impact I observed these women embrace through this retreat. Because words are so limited, the actions I observed might help shed some light on the transformations felt rippling through the attendees:
- Small groups of women were seen gathered around the dinner table bursting into spontaneous laughter from some story being told that tickled them all;
- Silent pondering was interrupted by joyous song;
- Long walks around the grounds were shared by newly forming friendships, letting the “slowest” set the pace;
- Sticky note crowns were created to remind a faltering spirit that, “She is a child of God!”
- Coloring sessions in a stain glassed chapel sparked creativity and candid conversations;
- Tears shared over feelings expressed and hugs given freely as if to say, “I know!”
- The weight of burdens were tangible but carried no shame, for everyone knew they had one or more of their own in which to wrestle with;
- Three river baptisms occurred among on-looking canoers; and
- The final “Letting Go” ceremony gave everyone the opportunity to release their heavy hearts at the foot of the cross and become empowered to move into a new place of their healing exploration.
If words could be found on the “Impact” of this time spent together, it was expressed by a very wise woman in the group as she shared, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present”. Her urgency to stay in the here and now was heard by us all as a call to cherish these new friends, embrace our story, and move through the day with the knowledge that we are all gifted new beginnings with each breath.
So, this Journey Retreat has come to an end. We may never know the fullness of what has happened, but I do believe it will have an effect even into generations to come. Mothers, grandmothers, wives, aunts, and daughters will be moving into their days with changed spirits. Finally, little ones will be born to mothers who were given the knowledge that they are loved and their mother-loss does not have to define their tomorrows. What better beginnings than that?