This past Sunday, countless from around the world gathered in diverse locales to celebrate God’s Divine mercy. So too, in the foothills of Mount Mansfield in Vermont, I was among a dozen people who met to thank God for his mercy in a very special manner. We met to memorialize children, entrusting them to God and thanking Him for the gift of these lives cut short due to either a miscarriage or an abortion.
This memorial service was a pivotal moment in a weekend long retreat aimed at recognizing the dignity to these often forgotten members of our human family. Throughout the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, participants were led by a skilled team of facilitators to grapple with the turmoil that frequently accompanies parents, family, and friends touched by an abortion or a miscarriage.
Participants were encouraged to reflect on their intuition of the child's gender and name each child. I came to give homage to Ezekiel and Catherine. An older sibling, Ezekiel had his life shortened due to a miscarriage.
You preceded me into my Mother’s womb;
You preceded me into our Heavenly rest.
I’m sad’ned we have never met;
Sad’ned at the shortness of your life.
Important you are to me,
Not forgotten, ever wanted,
Accompany me now, ‘til we be ever together.
Catherine, the daughter of a close friend, had her life shortened by an abortion.
The weekend was a difficult one. Those of us who had come to mourn our losses laboured longhours, well into the late evenings.
In preparation for the memorial service, the weekend was punctuated by several workshops treating Sacred Scriptures. Called “Living Scriptures,” these retelling were quite moving. For example, I was particularly moved by the treatment of when Jesus was asked to judge a woman caught in adultery. After having the biblical passage read, a facilitator exhibited a stone, symbolic of how “justice” was meted out to adulterers. Its size, its jaggedness, evoked a visceral reaction of the barbarity of the act; quite distinct from the mercy with which I characterize God.
Then we were given one and asked to carry it throughout the weekend until that time came when we recognized our own intransigency, lack of mercy toward someone in our lives. It was a humbling exercise.
Despite the intensity of this weekend, The loving support of the facilitators permitted me to deal with a difficult topic and permit some measure of closure. For this reason, I encourage others marred by either an abortion or miscarriage to follow in these same footsteps.
For further information about Rachel Vineyard click here.
For further information about post-abortion healing click here.
Programming note: During our Triduum for Life series, this coming May 2013, the Quebec Life Coalition will present a workshop on post-abortion healing. Details to follow.